PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Action #1: Mark your calendars for May 23. Work out your carpools to the Santa Barbara meeting!
Kern County is the most-fracked county in California by a wide margin. This region also has the worst air quality in the nation, as well as highly elevated rates of cancer and respiratory illness. For the people that live here, fracking means more oil extraction, more crippling climate impacts, and more impacts on their health.
Yesterday, while we were busy writing comments against the administration’s proposal to
strip “streamline” the power of states to control drilling activities off their own coastlines, Trump had to delay his plans to give offshore drilling leases to his favorite donors, due to a court decision blocking fossil fuel activity in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. But he and his EnergyDominance™ team (fossil-fuel-lobbyists-now-getting-government-paychecks) are concentrating on striking back at coastal states who oppose him and turning America into one big corporate-owned Superfund site.
Jim Hines, our Sierra Club advisor and early warning system sent this today…
“Greetings Energy Activists:
On this morning’s conference call with the executive staff at the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, the major topic was the advancement of the President’s ‘America’s Energy Dominance Program’, and wouldn’t you know it, but Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were mentioned.Yep, we are a big part of the plan to increase on a large scale oil and gas drilling on shore and offshore. Of course the offshore drilling plans have been pushed back until after the November 2020 Presidential election for political purposes but onshore plans are full speed ahead.
And we saw that here yesterday as the U.S. Dept. of the Interior released the proposal for massive fracking operations on lands in what is know as the Bakersfield region of California which includes such pristine areas as the Carrizo Plain National monument in SLO county and lands in Santa Barbara and Ventura county. Lands in Ventura county include parcels next to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary north of Fillmore, CA.
The federal government will hold one public hearing in our region to take public comment on the proposed action:
Public Hearing – May 23, 2019
Santa Barbara City College – West Campus—Fé Bland Forum
721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93019
So sad to hear this morning all the talk at the top levels of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior around the need in the Administrations view of fossil fuels to as one staffer said “Make America Great Again through wise use of fossil fuels extracted from national public lands”. The Sierra Club is working to create a massive outpouring of written and verbal comments in regards to drilling in such sensitive parcels in our region. Here is the link to the proposal for our region.
Other public meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m. here:
May 21, 2019
Kern County Administrative Office
1115 Truxtun Ave., First Floor (Rotunda and Board Chambers)
Bakersfield, CA 93301
May 22, 2019
Embassy Suites by Hilton
333 Madonna Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Action #2: Start making comments! Public comment open from 4/26 to 6/10.
How to comment:
- This is the DRAFT EIS report here.
- Map of open leases here.
- The government docs on this “project” are kept here.
- Click and you get this.
Once you click to comment at the lower right, you will see this.
Here’s the “tips” the BLM provides for leaving comments.
Substantive comments (rather than broad statements) are most effective. Substantive comments focus on specific issues that pertain to and help refine information and language. For example, substantive comments might:
- Present additional information or data sources pertaining to draft information or proposed management.
- Help to clarify or further refine the range of alternatives.
- Recommend a specific modification to a proposed management action.
- Identify and substantiate a specific concern related to a proposed resource use or restriction.
Avoid submitting comments that:
- Provide broad opinion favoring or opposing proposed management with no supporting data.
- Are presented as vague open-ended questions rather than clear statements.
- Do not pertain to the planning area.
- Reference data, but lack a citation with supporting or corrective data.
- Are identical form letters. They are considered one comment.
Petition signatures are also considered one comment.
Here’s initial material to start on comments from the Center for Biological Diversity.
(We are currently working on information for ‘Substantive comments‘ to issues in the EIS report. We will be adding a link to our research soon. If you have great specific information to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll also publish NON-substantive examples as inspiration. They still count, and they’re important.)
Complete CBD article and website here.
Fracking in California: QUESTIONS & CONCERNS
California is threatened with an impending fracking boom. But what is fracking, really? And what risks does it pose to the Golden State? Why do we believe fracking is simply too risky to our water, air, wildlife and climate? For us visual learners, we’ve tried to include a video or graphic for each major issue.
1. What is fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of oil and gas production that involves blasting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, under high pressure deep into the earth. Fracking breaks up rock formations to allow oil and gas extraction. But it can also pollute local air and water and endanger wildlife and human health.
2. Where is fracking being done in California?
Hydraulic fracturing is currently used on between 10 to 20 percent of all oil and gas wells on public lands in Central California managed by the Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield Field Office. The BLM is in the process of reviewing the proposed environmental impact of fracking on new oil and gas leases. COURTESY OF BLM, BAKERSFIELD FIELD OFFICE.
Fracking has been documented in 10 California counties — Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Kings and Ventura. Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells hundreds of times in the ocean near California’s coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel.
In Kern County, California’s major oil-producing county, 50 percent to 60 percent of new oil wells are fracked, according to estimates by Halliburton. And fracking may have been done elsewhere in California, since state officials haven’t monitored or tracked the practice until recently.
Oil companies are increasingly interested in using fracking and other dangerously extreme fossil fuel extraction methods in the Monterey Shale. This geological formation under the San Joaquin and the Los Angeles basins may hold a large amount of extraordinarily dirty, carbon intensive oil.
3. How does fracking contaminate our water?
A fracking well can use 1.5 million gallons to about 16 million gallons of water and routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene. About 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, according to scientists with the Endocrine Disruption Exchange. Evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water. (NY Times)(scientific American)(water calculator)(inside energy.org)(safewater.org)
Water quality can also be threatened by methane contamination tied to drilling and the fracturing of rock formations. This problem has been highlighted by footage of people in fracked areas setting fire to methane-laced water from kitchen faucets.
Fracking can also expose people to harm from lead, arsenic and radioactivity that are brought back to the surface with fracking flowback fluid. Fracking requires an enormous amount of water, and because fracking waste water contains dangerous toxins it generally cannot be cleaned and reused for other purposes. Especially during a historic drought, we cannot afford to permanently remove massive quantities of this precious resource from our state’s water supply.
4. How does fracking pollute our air?
Fracking can release dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene, toluene and xylene. It can increase levels of ground-level ozone, a key risk factor for respiratory illness. The pollutants in fracking water can also enter our air when that water is dumped into waste pits and then evaporates. Air pollution caused by fracking may contribute to health problems in people living near natural-gas drilling sites, according to a study by researchers with the Colorado School of Public Health.
5. How does fracking worsen climate change?
Fracking and similar techniques often release large amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that’s at least 86 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
Fracking also allows access to huge fossil fuel deposits that were once beyond the reach of drilling. In California, oil companies are increasingly interested in using fracking on the Monterey Shale, a geological formation under the San Joaquin and the Los Angeles basins that may hold a large amount of dirty, carbon-intensive oil.
Moreover, much of California’s oil is dirty, heavy crude. The California Air Resources Board scores many of the state’s oil fields as approximately as carbon intensive as oil from the infamous Alberta tar sands. As California strives to lead the fight to avoid a climate change catastrophe, why should we facilitate the release of carbon in billions of barrels of carbon-intensive oil now safely sequestered in our shale formations? We shouldn’t.
6. How does fracking threaten wildlife? The six California counties in which fracking is likely to expand are home to about 100 plants and animals on the endangered species list. These species are already struggling against extinction — fracking would only compound their troubles. Endangered species like the California condor, San Joaquin kit fox and blunt-nosed leopard lizard live in places where fracking is likely to expand. These animals can be harmed and killed in many ways by fracking and the industrial development that accompanies it.
7. Don’t state and federal laws protect our wildlife — and us — from fracking? Check out the draft EIS, page 29. They can build up to 200 feet from a occupied dwelling, or even closer. The lady in this video below is traumatized by a well 300 feet from her house.
Fracking is very poorly regulated at the federal level. In 2005 Congress exempted most types of fracking from the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, severely limiting protections for water quality. In April 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized new Clean Air Act rules called “New Source Performance Standards” that will limit air pollutants from fracked gas wells. However, the rules don’t cover oil wells, don’t set limits on methane release — and won’t take effect until 2015. As a result, regulating fracking falls largely to the states.
And California officials aren’t doing much to protect the state’s millions of residents. State oil regulators didn’t even track where and how often fracking was happening until they were forced to do so by public pressure.
In September 2013 California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 4, a weak fracking law that a Los Angeles Times editorial called “so watered down as to be useless.” The law requires the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to establish regulations beginning in January 2015. The Division of Oil, CAs and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has proposed weak, industry-friendly regulations that will do little to protect public health or the environment from fracking.
The bottom line: Fracking is an inherently dangerous practice, and the only way to protect ourselves is to halt use of this toxic technique. That’s why we’re asking Governor Newsom to ban fracking in California.
8. But hasn’t fracking been done in California for many years?
Yes — but today’s fracking techniques are new and pose new dangers. Technological changes have facilitated an explosion of drilling in areas where, even a decade ago, companies couldn’t recover oil and gas profitably.
Directional drilling, for example, is a new technique that has greatly expanded access to rock formations. Companies also employ high fluid volumes to fill horizontal “well bores” that sometimes extend for miles. And oil and gas producers are using new chemical concoctions collectively called “slick water” that allow injection fluid to flow rapidly enough to generate the high pressure needed to break apart rock.
9. What is acidization extraction?
Furthermore, if oil exploitation begins on a large scale in California, it will most likely happen through a combination of fracking and acidization. Acidization, another dangerously extreme fossil fuel extraction technique, is similar to fracking but employs hydrofluoric or hydrochloric acid to dissolve rock in order to release oil and gas. Acidization pollutes our air, and acid is a hazardous substance that can leak and cause deadly accidents.
As fracking methods have changed and fracking has expanded, so has the threat to public health and the environment.
Fracking Stats and facts
- Close to 900,000 Californians live within a half-mile of an active oil or gas well, with the vast majority in Los Angeles and Kern counties, according to a study by the Environmental Defense Fund.
- At least 15.3 million Americans lived within a mile of a well that has been drilled since 2000. That is more people than live in Michigan or New York City.378 schools or certified daycare facilities in California that are that close to an active well
- People have already been harmed. In 2015 a gas leak at the affluent San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch caused thousands of residents to evacuate and triggered complaints of nosebleeds, nausea and headaches. The Southern California Gas Co. agreed to pay $119.5 million to settle lawsuits brought by state and local agencies.
- Oil companies in North Dakota reported more than 1,000 accidental releases of oil, drilling wastewater or other fluids in 2011, according to data obtained by ProPublica. Many more illicit releases went unreported, state regulators acknowledge.
- The effects of accidental spills or deliberate dumping of waste products on land can last for years, or even decades. Check out what happened to landowners in North Dakota.
Action #3: Contact Governor Newsom.
(thenewamerican) “I’m taking a very pragmatic look at it, in scoping this (hydraulic fracking)…It’s also an inclusive scoping because it includes people in the industry, that have jobs; communities that are impacted from an environmental justice prism but also from an economic justice prism. It’s a challenging issue. There’s a reason Gov. Brown used a lot of dexterity on this issue….One cannot just turn off the switch. One cannot just immediately abut against a century of practice and policy,” Newsom said.
Yes, you can, Governor!
When an “old practice” threatens to harm your people, your water and your land, yes, you can. That’s called leadership.
Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Governor Newsom to prevent any new fracking activities in the state of CA.
Governor Gavin Newsom: email, (916) 445-2841