One of California’s toniest communities has become the first municipality in the state to ban the drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, within its city limits.
City council members of Beverly Hills, which currently has no fracking operations, voted unanimously to restrict the controversial well-injection process and other extreme well-stimulation techniques. The ban, which goes into effect June 6, applies not only to drilling operations within the city, but also those outside its jurisdiction that would extract oil or gas buried beneath Beverly Hills.
Known for its rich-and-famous residents, the city does have some experience with oil drilling. Venoco Inc. has operated a small cluster of oil wells on the campus of Beverly Hills High School for many years. That drilling, however, will cease in 2016, as the result of a city council decision made in 2011.
Councilmember John Mirsch said it was important for the council “to say fracking is not a compatible land use in Beverly Hills,” according to EcoWatch.
“But this issue goes beyond that. This is not a ‘not in my backyard issue’—it should not be in anyone’s backyard. And we also need to think long-term, even if our city is not a center of drilling—injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals at high pressure into the earth can’t be good. Asbestos and smoking was once also considered safe. Fracking is not worth the risk,” he added.
Other California local governments have taken anti-fracking stands. The city of Carson and Santa Cruz Country have imposed temporary bans on current oil and gas activity, while San Benito and Butte counties have approved voter initiatives that prohibit certain types of oil and gas activity.
At the state level, the legislature last year approved the first set of fracking regulations, which require oil companies to get permits for fracking and acidizing, which utilizes hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals to dissolve shale rock containing oil and gas deposits.