California state Sen. Fran Pavley, a Democrat, pushed a measure through to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Pavley said last week it was the oil industry, not the public, that should be held accountable for any problems associated with the controversial drilling practice.
The NRDC said California Gov. Jerry Brown inserted amendments at the last minute that render the regulation, SB-4, moot.
"Gov. Brown let a good bill go bad," Annie Notthoff, NRDC's director in California, said in a statement. "[He] needs to right this wrong by heeding the call of a majority of Californians -- impose a moratorium on fracking now until the risks are fully evaluated."
Oil companies in California are targeting the Monterey shale deposit, which Pavley said holds an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
Fracking involves injecting large volumes of water mixed with sand and chemicals to coax oil and natural gas from shale.
Editorials running last week in major California newspapers were critical of the amendments. The bill calls for the disclosure of chemicals used during fracking. The Los Angeles Times, however, said the amendments eliminate any "meaningful environmental review."