| WASHINGTON, April 4
WASHINGTON, April 4 Republican lawmakers said on
Friday over regulation has prevented a shale oil boom in
California and if eased, could boost production in the state and
reduce its dependence on foreign energy.
With more than an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil,
according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,
California's Monterey shale formation is twice as large as North
Dakota's Bakken formation. That state has risen to become the
second-largest U.S. oil producer in recent years, behind Texas.
California had the third-largest U.S. oil output in 2013,
narrowly ahead of Alaska, but could produce far more if the
state aggressively moved to develop its energy resources,
lawmakers said at a House Natural Resources committee hearing.
"The challenge now is not our ability to find it, it's the
ability of government allowing us to be able to produce it in a
sound way," said Republican Kevin McCarthy, who represents
California's oil-producing Kern county.
Mostly cut off from the rest of the country's oil
production, California relies on countries such as Iraq and
Saudi Arabia to meet more than half of its crude oil needs.
State regulators are working to update oversight of
hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the drilling technique that
has helped to spur the U.S. shale oil and gas boom.
Uncertainty surrounding future energy policies and lengthy
permitting processes have pushed energy companies away from
California, Jean Fuller, a California state senator, told
Critics of fracking, have blamed the practice for water
contamination and have raised concerns that increased drilling
has polluted the air.
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals
underground at high pressures to extract oil and gas.
California Democrats at the hearing pushed back against
claims that the state's stringent environmental rules have
harmed the state.
"In California we try to balance ... extraction of resources
with the health of our communities and our ecosystems, and we
are not going to change that model," said Democrat Alan
Lowenthal, whose district includes parts of Los Angeles and
While companies may find the state's regulations burdensome,
there is no law blocking them from developing the Monterey shale
formation, Lowenthal said.
California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has said he
supports more leasing for shale development if it can be done in
a safe manner.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe, editing by Ros Krasny and Sofina