Big news on the hydraulic fracturing front. An independent science panel has found that the direct environmental impact of well stimulation technologies for oil production in California “appear to be relatively limited.” That is, the primary environmental impacts from increased production will be caused by any increase in production generally – not by the well stimulation practices, i.e. “fracking.” The report was commissioned by the Bureau of Land Management to inform the federal agency’s oil and gas policies in California.

The California Council on Science and Technology released a peer-reviewed assessment conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Council’s steering committee included 12 subject matter experts from major research institutes within and outside California under the leadership of Dr. Jane C.S. Long, Principal Associate Director at Large at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The report’s key findings include:

This is an important study informing future public policy on hydraulic fracturing and well stimulation technologies. A second expanded report will be prepared for the California Natural Resources Agency in response to Senate Bill 4.