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:
3rd Reading & Final Passage
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.