SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A key state agency is proposing new regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or more commonly known as "fracking", of oil here in California.
Both sides of this growing debate gathered in Santa Maria Monday afternoon for a hearing on the contentious issue.
Opponents of fracking in Santa Barbara County rallied and protested outside the Santa Maria Betteravia Government Center Board of Supervisors Hearing Room ahead of a public meeting hosted by the California DOGGR, or Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.
The DOGGR is taking public input on proposed new regulations for fracking and also what it calls "extreme oil extraction".
"The product and the process of fracking is dangerous and the outcomes of fracking are well known", says anti-fracking protest Heidi Harmon in Santa Maria.
Opponents of fracking say a major concern is the potential for groundwater contamination.
"It poses seismic risks and contamination to water", Harmon claims, "it also uses millions of gallons of water which in a drought year in a drought state is the last thing we need."
The energy industry says fracking has a proven safe track record that dates back decades.
It also says technology and investment has made the fracking process even safer and its future will power the United States toward total energy independence and away from the country's enemies overseas and in OPEC.
All public comment on fracking in Santa Maria on Monday will be forwarded to Sacramento and Governor Brown for consideration.