So could this growth be the solution to cash strapped towns in California?
A study released by the University of Southern California in May, found that more oil development on the Monterey Shale could add 2.8 million new jobs in California by 2030. The state's Gross Domestic Product could increase to 14.3 percent per person and tax revenue collected by California state and local governments could grow to $24.6 billion dollars by 2030.
"Having temporary jobs, its an important thing, its important for the economy, for California, but are these the types of jobs we want to have? Are these the types of public health and environmental consequences we want?" said Torgun
The oil industry is already regulated in California but Torgun said there is nothing that differentiates the methods on how oil is extracted.
"They just threw up their hands and said we are going to trust what they are doing is safe," he said.
In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 4. The law adds some regulations which go into effect in 2014. Fracking operators will now be required to notify nearby property owners, obtain a permit from the state, conduct groundwater testing and disclose the chemicals they are using. More finalized regulations won't come in to play until 2015.
Also beginning in early 2014 will be an independent study to analyze impacts including seismic risks, use of recycled water and other well stimulation techniques besides fracking.
Senator Fran Pavley who authored SB4 said one of the requirements of the bill is that the State Water Board will develop regional groundwater monitoring plans that will be in place to assess future long term impacts.
The law calls for an independent scientific study on the any risks behind fracking or acidizing to be completed by 2015. But for environmentalists a lot of damage can be done by then.
"Essentially it allows the status quo to continue for at least the next couple of years and that concerns us," said Torgun.
For the city of Shafter that could mean more non-stop machines around prime farmland, more oil wells filling the backdrop of an elementary school and more concern for Kern County activists, Frantz, who carries a camera in hand all the time, to document what could be a boom, or bust for his town.
"In the next two years they could drill another 30 wells, maybe 50, right here in the middle of this prime farm land, one mistake in one well can damage the groundwater for thousands of acres of farmland or even the whole town of Shafter," said Frantz
Wednesday, 20 leading climate experts called on Governor Brown to impose a moratorium on fracking in the state. Other states like New York have put a ban on the practice while the risks are evaluated.
Q & A with Senator Pavley
Q: While the law and regulations is a big step as far as keeping an eye on new methods oil companies are using to extract oil and gas, why the deadline of 2015 to finalize regulations?
A: "Beginning in 2014, companies may not frack or acidize oil and gas wells unless they disclose all chemicals, notify neighbors and test the groundwater before and after operations. Like most agencies implementing comprehensive legislation, the Department of Conservation will need time to receive public comments and finalize its regulations, but these key provisions will give us immediate safeguards in 2014 and end unregulated fracking and acidizing in California."
Q: Some environmentalist have said a lot of damage could be done by then, how can you address those concerns?
A: "Companies have been fracking and acidizing without any oversight in California, and SB 4 will provide the first regulations and data while leaving room for more restrictions. This bill is just the first step toward greater accountability and transparency, and it will help California decide whether we can allow these activities to continue. The public is encouraged to review and comment on the draft regulations that will be released to implement SB 4."
Q: What's your take on the outcome of getting a bill signed, a lot of bills introduced this session but yours was signed, is this a step in the direction California needs to go when looking at what could be the next boom for the state?
A: "We need to account for all the costs and risk of fracking, and SB 4 will help us do that going forward. There were a variety of bills introduced, including several that proposed a moratorium. A moratorium would be a reasonable precaution, but there was little support in the Legislature this year. SB 4 is a first step but it will not be, and was not intended to be, the end of the debate on this issue, and it does not prevent local governments, state agencies or the governor from adopting more stringent regulations or a moratorium."