fracking

California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed new regulations Tuesday on hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and curbed steam-injected oil drilling in his state, extractive methods long opposed by environmentalists.

Under the new initiatives:

  • New permits for fracking will be subject to independent scientific review by experts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the permitting process will be audited by the state Department of Finance to study compliance with state law.

Colorado voters next month will decide how close is too close when it comes to oil and gas drilling. A statewide ballot measure known as Proposition 112 would keep new wells dramatically farther away from homes and schools, expanding the distance from a 500-foot minimum to 2,500 feet, the biggest statewide setback requirement in the country. It's a change the industry says would threaten its very existence.

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A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration's regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn't have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.

In the ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said Congress had not granted the BLM that power, and had instead chosen to specifically exclude fracking from federal oversight.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

SandRidge Energy has agreed to shutter some disposal wells in earthquake-prone northern Oklahoma in a settlement that avoids legal action by state oil and gas regulators.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A string of widely felt earthquakes is rattling residents and seismologists, who are warning that parts of Oklahoma could be primed for more severe shaking.

More than 5,700 earthquakes shook the state in 2015 — a record year of seismic activity in Oklahoma. The New Year is off to a shaky start.

Fourteen Edmond residents filed a lawsuit Monday against a dozen oil and gas companies, “claiming their saltwater disposal wells were in part to blame for earthquakes that hit central Oklahoma in recent weeks,” The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports.

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Oklahoma City residents woke early New Year's Day to a magnitude 4.2 quake. Earlier this week, a magnitude 4.3 quake struck the same area.

The state isn't historically known for earthquakes, but NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce told our Newscast unit that Oklahoma "has recently seen a dramatic rise in seismic activity." Here's more:

Al Jazeera America’s documentary on Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry-linked earthquake surge airs Dec. 13. The doc includes an unfettered interview with former state seismologist Austin Holland on his last day at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, during which he details industry pressure and conflicts of interest by state officials tasked with studying the shaking.

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