OLYMPIA – Today the Washington State House of Representatives approved legislation to prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for oil and natural gas exploration and production in Washington.

Senate Bill 5145, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline), will protect public safety, natural resources, and environmental health. Fracking has drawn national notoriety in recent years for its effects on the environment. The practice extracts oil and natural gas by injecting large quantities of fluid and chemicals into rock far below the earth’s surface, breaking up the rock and allowing the gas or oil to flow to the surface.

Across the country, the use of fracking has raised alarms over high water usage causing water shortages, drinking water contamination, fuel and wastewater spills, excessive release of methane gas, and even earthquakes. The long-term effects of this relatively new technology on public and environmental health are largely unknown, and with the chemical contents of fracking fluids exempt from public disclosure, those effects are difficult for experts to anticipate.

“Our state’s environment is our pride and joy, and a precious commodity we are entrusted to preserve for future generations,” said Salomon. “It’s only logical that as a leader in environmental protections, we protect our environment and our own health by prohibiting fracking now, before it’s a problem, and not after the damage has been done.”

Having been amended by the House, the SB 5145 now comes back to the Senate for concurrence before it can be sent to the governor’s office to be signed into law.