PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Action: This is it, people! Start making comments! Public comment open until Monday night 6/10, 11:59pm EST – NEW EASY METHOD!
Option 1 – “Super Easy” 5-minute comment generator.
The folks at Los Padres Forest Watch have created this nifty system to help you create an original (VERY IMPORTANT!) public comment on this issue.
Simply go here and follow their instructions. 5 minutes, one click and you’re done! No, you don’t have to read any further. You’re ready to go right now!
In fact, it’s so easy, please share on all your social media platforms and do a couple today before deadline!
Option 2 – More challenging – comment directly on BLM’s weird comment site.
Click to comment directly here.
For graphic instructions on using this strange portal, links to maps of open leases, government documents on this project including the “Draft EIS”, go here.
If you’re interested in this subject, we’ve collected lots of information for you to skim through here. Take one fact or issue, or as many as you want to create your comment. Comments don’t have to be long or extremely technical.
(In item #12 below, there are linked sources that specifically address the BLM EIS. They are being updated while you read this…)
Jim Hines, our Sierra Club advisor and early warning system sent this note awhile back…
“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.”
We’re now at the end a five-year moratorium on leasing federal land in California to oil and gas developers. A 2017 lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity caused a federal judge to order the Obama administration to halt leasing efforts until it could better evaluate the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
In its settlement, BLM promised that it would first provide an environmental impact statement before considering fracking, which is now complete. It encompasses a “planning area” that included a lot of drilling AND fracking, on public and private land spread across eight counties in Central California: eastern Fresno, western Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura. Monday night, TONIGHT, is the deadline for public comments.
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. The locations of the actual wells are closely associated with environmental racism.
3. How does fracking contribute to earthquake danger?
One of California’s 10 largest earthquakes was a magnitude 7.3 quake in 1952 along a known fault in Kern County, where commercial oil and gas activity has been underway since the 1860s.
“One of the problems in California is that it is so seismically active already that it’s been difficult historically to link seismic events to particular injection projects, which is what you see in other states,” said Lakewood.
4. How does fracking contaminate our water?
Yes, according to the EPA’s own report. Find the full 666-page study or its 50-page executive summary here.
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.
5. How does fracking pollute our air?
“The Central Valley has some of the worst air quality in the nation, and we know fracking and drilling make air quality worse,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group.
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. For a more in-depth look at the BLM report on this subject, go here.
6. 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.
7. How does fracking threaten wildlife and humans?
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. Even the noise of drilling has profound effects on birds and other wildlife’s ability to breed, navigate and defend themselves, as well as on the health of humans.
8. Don’t state and federal laws protect our wildlife — and us — from fracking?
The lady in this video below is traumatized by a well 300 feet from her house. The BLM mentioned being allowed to put rigs within 200′, but we wrote them a note about the 107 dBL noise level, and now it’s gone…
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.
9. 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.
10. What is acidization extraction?
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.
11. Fracking will occur near California’s national parks.
In its proposal, the government made a case that the effects on a range of delicate issues – from degrading air quality to threats to cultural and Native American resources in the area,including areas close to Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks.– could be avoided or minimized on 1,011,470 acres across eight counties. In 2005, the Forest Service decided to open up 52,075 acres of pristine forest lands for drilling next to some of the most sensitive areas of the forest, including the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, and four wilderness areas.
By the agency’s own calculations, this new drilling would produce less than a day’s supply of oil at our nation’s current consumption rates. Such a small amount of oil will do little to bring our country closer to renewable fuels or energy independence, or reduce gas prices.
New drilling threatens vital habitat for at least 13 federally-listed threatened and endangered species, as well as recreation, clean water, and important cultural sites. Over $35 million has been spent on the Condor Recovery Program, an investment too great to risk for a few drops of oil.
12. Wonk city!
This list of the aspects the BLM included in the Draft EIS. The ones with links are specific responses to the BLM’s report. Keep checking in, we keep adding them.
- Air and Atmospheric Values (including estimated Greenhouse Gas Emissions);
- Biological Resources;
- Cultural Resources;
- Native American Values;
- Paleontological Resources;
- Soil Resources;
- Visual Resources;
- Water Resources (quality and quantity);
- Livestock Grazing;
- Minerals Management;
- Areas of Critical Environmental Concern;
- Social and Economic Resources
- Special Status Species.
Items/responses we’ve added.
- Economic racism and injustice
- Noise impacts
- Profit: Who profits from this activity and is it actually profitable?
- Studies of small birth weight of babies living near fracking sites.
Frightening 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.