The Monterey Shale that runs through the center of California may hold about 15.4 barrels of oil, which amounts to about 15.4 barrels of oil imports. This oil would have to be retreived by fracking. The state Conservation Department released fracking regulations in December of 2012, including rules for storing fracking fluids, and monitoring to prevent contamination.
There are currently five bills awaiting review in the state Legislature regarding fracking, including one that would require drillers to disclose the amount of chemicals and water used, and to notifying neighboring properties.
Link to full article: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/california-fracking-fight-25-billion-235222214.html
What is Fracking?
Hydraulic Fracturing, or fracking, is an extraction process that allows the release of natural gas from inside the Earth using pressurized water, sand, and chemicals. Modern technology has permitted scientists to discover the precise locations that are ideal for this type of drilling. The pressurized water creates new channels for the gas to be extracted more efficiently. This is usually done horizontally.
Why is Fracking Controversial?
This process is considered controversial and dangerous because of the carcinogenic chemicals that may be released during the fracking process. These chemicals may then find their way into drinking water sources. This can have fatal effects, like causing drinking water to catch on fire. A study done by Duke University has also revealed that there is seventeen times more methane in drinking water wells that are located near fracking sites.The process of releasing shale rock has also led to speculation of whether or not this causes small earthquakes. There have been reported earthquakes in Ohio and Oklahoma, which has fracking sites within them.
There is a continued fear of contamination due to these wells. In 2009, Kern County in California disovered that 96 million barrels of contaminated water had seeped from holding ponds onto a neighboring farmer's property. This led to contamination of the aquifer beneath his land. Although it is unknown if this water came from fracking, there has been speculation. The containment of this water in holding ponds also has cause for concern. California Director of Governmental Affairs Bill Allayud fears that these holding ponds could increase air pollution from groundwater leaching and volatile organic compounds. Another major issue is that the water contaminated with chemicals will transfer to aquifers and contaminating them.
Fracking in California
There were strict regulations regarding this process in California. The previous head of the Department of Conservation, Derek Chernow, concluded that environmental laws were being violated. However, the regulations were lengthy and required "top to bottom" reporting for the issuing of a permit. Governor Brown then replaced Chernow. Brown concluded that these regulations should be relaxed, and Chernow was not allowing the creation of new jobs in the oil industry, which employs tens of thousands of people. This would stimulate California's economy and lower the already high unemployment rate. Brown also argued that regulators took a "one size fits all" approach to every state, even though the geology drastically varies from state to state. Regulators were also being inefficient with responses and applications, delaying permits for months at a time.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the lobbyist group Western States Petroleum Association, also argued that regulators would take so long to respond to permit requests that production would have to be halted for operators. State Senator Michael Rubio, a democrat from East Bakersfield, agrees, stating that the process to obtain a permit was "broken" and there was a "one-sided approach" being taken on by regulators.
Oil contractors also complained, stating that the lengthy process was negatively affecting their way of living, and begin a letter writing campaign. Brown agreed to a shortcut for permits. Now, permits dating as far back as November of 2011 have been approved, as well as 77 other well permits.
Gasland: A Documentary
Filmmaker Josh Fox travels cross country to discover the truth behind hyradulic fracturing.
Hydaulic Fracturing Workshops in California
The California Department of Conservation is organizing workshops in different cities around California to discuss and provide information regarding the fracking process, its regualtions, and public concern regarding this regulation.
Article by Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
Christine Shearer, Truthout
The Department of Water Resources held an Environmental Scientists Workshop from September 18th-20th at Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, California.
The Lake Natoma Inn is in close proximity to public transportation, features energy saving appliances, and uses hydroelectric power, which correlates with this conference's ongoing message of living sustainably.
Director Mark Cowin started the workshop with a sustainability message.
A wide variety of subjects and projects currently being worked on by DWR employees were featured in the workshop. Abstracts included monitoring of wetland areas, fish surveying and restoration, habitat restoration, gas emissions and regulations, and various other topics.
A poster session was also held which discussed many environmental issues, such as conservation, river restoration, fish, agriculture, and flood management. Activities consisted of water quality measurement methods and snake identification for field safety.
A keynote speech was also given by Dr. Sudeep Chandra, (below) an Associate Professor for the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Chandra discussed climate's effects on fish and small lake ecology in the upper Sacramento watershed. He presented findings from the past 53 years from Castle Lake.
A major theme during this workshop was DWR's continuing commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. A donation was also made to Trees for the Future, which will plant 1000 trees worldwide. Many of the presentations, posters, discussions and activities focused around the theme of sustainable environments and ecosystems.
A special thanks to Rachel Piser for organizing and planning this year's workshop!
Presentations and the booklet from the Environmental Scientists workshop are available for viewing and download in the Library section of the Collaboration Portal.