California has launched an environmental review on the effects of hydraulic fracturing, which is expected to give state lawmakers a better idea of the impact the technique for oil and gas extraction has on groundwater and the environment as a whole. According to Gov. Jerry Brown the study may take up to 18 months to complete, Bloomberg reported.

California is currently the third-largest oil producer in the United States and is believed to hold large reserves of shale oil. It has been estimated that there are as many as 15.4 billion barrels of oil in the Monterey Shale formation. This type of oil can be easily accessed through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but California regulators commissioned the environmental review in September in response to concerns raised by environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute.

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Gov. Brown said the study would "give science a chance" to explore the likely outcome of fracking operations on the environment and a decision on whether to ban the technique would be made after results from the study have been published. He told Bloomberg that the research will be the most detailed and encompassing environmental assessment of fracking conducted so far.

Making a decision like this one is not easy and there are numerous factors involved, but California is doing the best it can to support a sustainable economy and to cut carbon emissions, Gov. Brown concluded.