NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

VICTORY! Washington State Senate votes to ban fracking in oil and gas production

Hydraulic frac­tur­ing, or frack­ing, could soon be banned in Wash­ing­ton State if a bill approved by the Sen­ate today becomes law. Sen­ate Bill 5145, spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Jesse Salomon, would ban the destruc­tive prac­tice of inject­ing flu­ids into gas and oil wells under pres­sures great enough to frac­ture oil and gas-bear­ing rock.

Twen­ty-nine sen­a­tors vot­ed for the bill on final pas­sage, with eigh­teen opposed.

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
SB 5145
Hydraulic fracturing
3rd Read­ing & Final Passage
2/13/2019

Yeas: 29; Nays: 18; Excused: 2

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tors Bil­lig, Car­lyle, Cleve­land, Con­way, Darneille, Das, Dhin­gra, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keis­er, Kud­er­er, Liias, Lovelett, McCoy, Mul­let, Nguyen, Palum­bo, Ped­er­sen, Ran­dall, Rolfes, Sal­daña, Salomon, Takko, Van De Wege, Well­man, Wil­son (Claire)

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tors Bai­ley, Beck­er, Braun, Brown, For­tu­na­to, Holy, Hon­ey­ford, King, O’Ban, Pad­den, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Wag­oner, Walsh, War­nick, Wil­son (Lyn­da), Zeiger

Excused: Sen­a­tors Erick­sen, Sheldon

The Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus was uni­fied in its sup­port of the bill. One Repub­li­can, Brad Hawkins, joined them to vote aye. Of the remain­ing Repub­li­cans, eigh­teen vot­ed no, while two (Doug Erick­sen and Tim Shel­don) were excused.

Although there is no oil or gas pro­duc­tion cur­rent­ly hap­pen­ing in Wash­ing­ton, that does­n’t mean there won’t be any in the future. That’s why Sen­ate Bill 5145 is so impor­tant. It safe­guards our lithos­phere and water sup­ply by out­law­ing fracking.

As the bil­l’s pre­am­ble explains:

The leg­is­la­ture finds that hydraulic frac­tur­ing of under­ground for­ma­tions for the removal of oil and gas deposits is a rel­a­tive­ly new tech­nol­o­gy whose long-term impacts upon human health and envi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ty are large­ly unknown. This tech­nol­o­gy requires large quan­ti­ties of frack­ing flu­ids con­tain­ing chem­i­cals that are exempt from pub­lic dis­clo­sure and which may con­t­a­m­i­nate ground­wa­ter and sur­face waters used as drink­ing water supplies.

Each well in which hydraulic frac­tur­ing is employed requires more than one mil­lion gal­lons of water per year, with the aver­age well using from three to eight mil­lion gal­lons of water over its life­time. In many areas of the state, the exist­ing ground­wa­ter sup­plies and sur­face water sources are ful­ly appro­pri­at­ed, and such large new demands would threat­en exist­ing uses for agri­cul­ture, indus­tri­al, and munic­i­pal purposes.

The leg­is­la­ture fur­ther finds that as much as nine­ty per­cent of the frack­ing flu­ids must be dis­posed of fol­low­ing use in the frack­ing well, with most of this flu­id sub­se­quent­ly returned fol­low­ing lim­it­ed treat­ment back into under­ground injec­tion wells.

Very lit­tle is known at this time regard­ing the impact that these dis­posed flu­ids may have upon ground­wa­ter aquifers and the poten­tial adverse human health impacts from such exposure.

Oth­er adverse envi­ron­men­tal impacts have also been iden­ti­fied in hydraulic frac­tur­ing. Large quan­ti­ties of methane are released in this process, which is both a tox­ic pol­lu­tant as well as a very potent green­house gas. Hydraulic frac­tur­ing is also sus­pect­ed to be the source of increased seis­mic­i­ty in some regions with numer­ous wells.

Our team at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute strong­ly sup­ports this leg­is­la­tion and thanks all who vot­ed for its pas­sage. We urge the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to take up this bill and send it to Gov­er­nor Inslee for his signature.

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2 Comments

  1. Doesn’t mean much if we let it be shipped to ports, like Tacoma,for ship­ping-will com­plete­ly dec­i­mate Puget Sound.
    Jay Inslee is sup­port­ing these hor­ri­ble projects

    # by Carol Olivier :: February 16th, 2019 at 11:56 AM
    • Not sure what you mean, Car­ol. If you’re refer­ring to the Taco­ma methanol project, that was can­celed.

      Ban­ning frack­ing is impor­tant and mean­ing­ful regard­less. It shuts the door on the pos­si­bil­i­ty of dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals find­ing their way into our water sup­ply as a result of oil and gas drilling.

      # by Andrew :: February 22nd, 2019 at 5:26 PM
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