OLYMPIA – Washington will now prohibit the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for oil and natural gas exploration and production, according to legislation that Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law today.

Sen. Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline), sponsored Senate Bill 5145 to protect the state’s public safety, natural resources and environmental health from damages caused by fracking, a method of extracting 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. In recent years, this practice has gained national attention for its effects on the environment.

High water usage, potential water shortages, drinking water contamination, fuel and wastewater spills, methane gas contamination, and earthquakes are all among the effects causing concern across the country. Because fracking uses relatively new technology, its effects on human and environmental health are largely unknown. Experts are prevented from effectively anticipating and detecting those effects by an exemption from public disclosure requirements for fracking fluid’s chemical contents.

“We are charged with preserving our environment for future generations; it is a cornerstone of our state’s identity,” said Salomon. “While fracking is not currently done in Washington, it is important that we acted preventatively here. If the use of fracking were to be established, oil companies and lobbyists would make it very hard to curtail.”