PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, will travel to North Dakota tomorrow with a group of fellow legislators to learn about the economic and environmental impact of oil and gas well stimulation methods, according to his office.

The trip starts after the adjournment of the Assembly's current session, and the legislators will return on Sunday. The lawmakers expect to learn how hydraulic fracturing, or ``fracking,'' can ``safely move forward in California while increasing energy independence and job growth,'' according to Nestande's office.

Legislation relating to hydraulic fracturing has been introduced in California over the past year, including SB 4, which is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

``It is critical that we examine every opportunity for energy independence and job growth, and that we fully understand the economic and environmental impacts that go along with natural gas and oil extraction,'' Nestande said.

Fracking involves firing a mix of water, sand and chemicals underground to break up rock formations containing oil or gas. It is said to be responsible for recent energy booms and economic growth -- including jobs -- in North Dakota, but opponents cite potential groundwater contamination, depletion of fresh water, and gases and chemicals rising to the surface.