California drought being used to push for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing

With most of the state of California under abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions, opponents of hydraulic fracturing are focusing their efforts on curtailing these operations to preserve the state’s water supply. California assemblyman Marc Levine is co-sponsoring a bill that would place a moratorium on all fracking activities, arguing these activities require too much water and deplete the state’s limited water resources. Last year a moratorium bill failed (37 to 24) while a bill requiring disclosure of the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing was passed.

As of yet, California has not done much fracturing, with the Department of Conservation estimating that last year the entire oil and gas industry used about as much water as 300 households or nearly 1,000,000 gallons. According to industry representatives, hydraulic fracturing in California uses very small amounts of water and the period of pressuring the reservoir rock is much shorter. Also the industry states that its members are sensitive to the drought conditions and can make adjustments to their operations to compensate for water shortages.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.