State regulators were in Bakersfield Wednesday night discussing possible new rules for a controversial oil field practice. It's called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," and is a process that is not specifically regulated in California.
However, the California Department of Conservation is now tasked with looking at ways to monitor what's going on.
The drilling procedure, called fracking, involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to break up rocks so oil companies can get to the oil. Right now, there is no mandatory tracking in California on who is or isn't fracking but conservation officials say something needs to change so they can determine if the process is hazardous.
"We are having these public workshops across the state so that we can get input from the public about the practice of fracking and how we should have a regulatory response to it," said Jason Marshall, California Department of Conservation.
Some people opposed to fracking claim the chemicals mix with groundwater and cause a major environmental hazard but no one knows what type of chemicals are used because, in California, companies aren't required to disclose that information.
"What's in them, the chemicals that are actually on fracfocus(.com) now we actually don't know. They are trade secrets," said Marshall.
This worries some environmentalists.
"Require disclosure of which chemicals are used what amounts and what combinations of the chemicals may produce unhealthy effects." said Arthur Unger from the Sierra Club.
Fracking is mainly done at depths that are thousands of feet below our drinking water table, and California has some of the most stringent laws regarding well construction. Proponents at the meeting say the chemicals are safe and argue we have had no major issues yet, so there is no reason to begin regulating it now.
According to the California Department of Conservation, the federal government has some regulations on the practice.
Diesel fuel has been used in the past as a fracking fluid, but under the Safe Drinking Water Act, it is not allowed because of its toxic chemical makeup.