The city council of Carson, California has passed a 6-week moratorium on new oil drilling, after residents protested against plans by Occidental Petroleum to sink at least 200 wells in the area as more local governments across the country make their stand against fracking known.
The vote, which ended with all the 5 members voting against new drilling projects, gives the city time to study the safety and potential risks of different well stimulation techniques and its powers to regulate them.
If the council decides to go ahead with another vote, this may extend the moratorium for up to two years.
“There are too many questions, too many unknowns,” said Councilman Al Robles, who sponsored the moratorium and who on February called on the city to decline Occidental’s proposal. “I refuse to gamble with the health and wellbeing of the residents.”
Occidental revealed its plans to sink new wells in Carson’s Dominquez Oil Field in 2012. It disclosed that it would use fracking, known technically as hydraulic fracturing, to tap the at least 52 million barrels of oil believed to be trapped underground in the area.
Fracking is a controversial method which involves pumping sand, chemicals and water deep into the bowels of the earth at high pressure, causing the rock to disintegrate and free trapped oil and gas for upward extraction through wells. The use of this technique has spurred another energy boom in the United States.
These plans were greeted with stiff resistance from the locals, who expressed concerns about the possible effect of fracking on the local water and air quality.
However, in response, Occidental said it would carry its operations in a soundproof warehouse complex. It also presented an environmental report stating the project won’t have any negative impact on soil, groundwater or air quality.
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