Fracking: a problem not just for Pennsylvania and Ohio

Hydraulic fracturing: How it works (Source: Times Reporting, LA Times)

It’s happening in California right now and has been for years, although apparently the state’s own regulatory agency doesn’t know about it.

In the past, the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has said that it “does not believe that fracking is widely used” in the state. More recently, the division allowed that the practice is “used for a brief period to stimulate production of oil and gas wells,” but added that “the division doesn’t believe the practice is nearly as widespread as it is in the Eastern U.S. for shale gas production.”

Did they not think to ask?

Hydraulic fracturing has been used on thousands of wells in California, according to the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based organization critical of the energy industry. Environmentalists are suing the federal government to prevent oil companies from fracking on public lands in Monterey and Fresno counties. Lawmakers have revived the disclosure bill that stalled last year after objections by Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oil field service companies and a pioneer of hydraulic fracturing. They also have introduced legislation that would require oil companies to notify landowners before fracking near their properties.

Our governor has been trying to make things easier for energy companies in California and his administration hasn’t drawn up any new rules covering fracking.

State regulators say existing environmental laws protect the state’s drinking water but acknowledge they have little information about the scale or practice of fracking in California, the fourth-largest oil producing state in the nation. That has created mounting anxiety in communities from Culver City to Monterey, where residents are slowly discovering the practice has gone on for years, sometimes in densely populated areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club are suing the Bureau of Land Management to stop fracking on federal land, including 2,500 acres in Monterey and Fresno counties, leased to oil companies last year.

“They didn’t do any real analysis of what fracking would mean out there,” such as the potential effect on endangered species or the local water supply, despite the likelihood that fracking would be used, said Kassie Siegel, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity and director of its Climate Law Institute. “They cite some misleading, older information which says, well, fracking’s no problem,” she said.

And there’s been no significant progress actually getting any laws passed. (Quelle surprise”‰!)


  1. Several years ago here on The Oregon High Desert a company began test drilling for hydro-thermal on our youngest (1,500 years) volcano, Newberry. Everyone was pretty much cool with it: the company proposals met with the local population’s concerns about environmental impacts, and if successful the energy generated would be distributed locally. Sadly, for the project itself, the drills never hit a pocket of hot water. The company then proposed hauling effluent from out local sewage treatment plant to the site and injecting it, under pressure, into the drill sites to meet the project’s goals and right about then everyone Mad Scientists (such as myself) to private sector geologists to public sector geologists, vulcanologists and plate tectonic(ists) dragged out reports of studies done in the eighties by the University of Colorado that demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that injecting water under pressure into active earthquake fault zones causes earthquakes.

    One would think that with California’s history, California, as we here, would think twice.

  2. The problem is that these people who allow their companies to break the laws will never be jailed. Sure they might have to pay fines, but these companies are making gobs of money and the fines are a slap on the wrist and usually aren’t even large enough to hurt the profits they already made by violating the laws of the land in the first place. It’s about time that the first mass produced magnetic generators be sold to the public so we can tell these energy companies to take a hike.

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