By Steven Tavares
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Basked in muted colors and soft lighting is a recent ExxonMobil is a relatively uplifting commericial running on cable television featuring the energy company’s interest for tapping what it calls one of the world’s largest deposits of oil sands in the world locating right here in the United States.
One problem. What the 30-second spot fails to communicate is a method for extracting those natural resources is one of the most hotly-debated environmental question in recent months and the topic of a bill authored by an East Bay lawmaker.

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski’s bill forcing natural gas companies to disclose specifics of the chemicals they use during the practice of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking passed a significant hurdle last Thursday on its way to discussion before the full assembly in coming weeks.

The legislation is one of the state’s first forays into regulating the controversial process of fracking used to extract natural gas and oil trapped beneath rock and soil formations. The Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday passed AB 591, 12-5.

Water is typically used in the process, but in more difficult extracting situations a wide array of chemicals are deployed without disclosure by the producers to the state or local authorities. “We need to exercise proper oversight into what is being injected into these wells,” Wieckowski said. “In order to protect our drinking water in California from the risk of pollution, disclosure is necessary.

While the use of fracking in California is not yet wide spread, large field of oil sands have been identified in the Central Valley. Other states, though, have had problems with fracking chemicals seeping into the ground water unbeknownst to residents. One instance earlier this year in Pennsylvania included an accident including the hazardous chemicals used in fracking flooding a local town.
“The public should know which chemicals are being used, said Wieckowski. “This is a reasonable step to increasing transparency as this technique increases in use.”