Besides shaking things up below ground, “fracking” is also creating a quite a stir above ground, especially in places like California. Here, hard core environmentalists oppose most anything that penetrates land, sea or air; and business people are desperately looking for new ways to create jobs and energy.

"Fracking" or hydraulic fracturing is man-made procedure that injects a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at very high pressure into a pre-drilled hole in the ground. This creates fractures in the earth, whereby fluids such as gas, petroleum or groundwater can flow up toward the surface.

Supporters say increased fracking, which is currently underway in about nine California counties, could be a boom for the Golden State and its roughly 9% unemployment rate. They see economic recovery in places like the state’s vast Monterey Shale formation that blankets 1,750 sq-miles of Southern and Central California, holding an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil, or about an estimated two-thirds of the cournty's shale oil reserves. 

Opponents see polluted ground water and climate change if the process is not heavily regulated or stopped outright.

With the California Legislature’s May 31 deadline for introduced bills, these opposing views on fracking met head-on. And according to new data by Maplight, a “nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that reveals money’s influence on politics,” the pro-fracking side appears to be winning the money battle.  

Maplight, along with the National Institute of Money in State, analyzed campaign contributions to members of the California State Assembly and Senate from interest groups favoring or opposing fracking legislation from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012.

They found interest groups against AB 1323 gave more than seven times as much money as groups supporting the bill. Representatives voting "no" on AB 1323 got an average of 31 times as much money from pro-fracking groups as from those opposing fracking. This bill proposed a temporary moratorium on fracking but failed to pass on May 30 by a vote of 24 – 37. It was the only moratorium bill to make it to a vote.

Maplight also found that 17 representatives "Not Voting" received five times as much money from opposing groups as from supporting groups, and that all of these reps were democrats.

One of the bills to survive in the legislature is SB4, which would establish statutory regulations on fracking, including pre and post-fracking ground water testing. Supporters of the bill gave 64% more to representatives than the opposition.  


Of the 12 bills identified by MapLight as related to fracking, eight were opposed by the Western States Petroleum Association, whose members include ExxonMobil, Valero, British Petroleum (BP), and Chevron. Those against fracking included democrat-based groups, and municipal and county government agencies.