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Don’t Frack With California

The fracking boom has made its way to California. Companies are already fracking in at least six counties and they’re poised to expand operations.

Fracking involves blasting millions of gallons of water, along with sand and toxic chemicals, deep into the earth to break up rocks and extract oil and gas. Amid growing contamination concerns nationally, state legislatures in New York, New Jersey and Vermont have enacted bans or moratoriums.

California officials have seemed unconcerned. The Department of Conservation’s oil and gas division has acknowledged that it does not even monitor, let alone regulate, fracking.

Yes, that’s right: California regulators have no idea when, where or in how many wells fracking is occurring in the state – or even what chemicals are used in the process. It is, of course, impossible to protect the public from fracking risks in the absence of such basic information.

Transparency is a critical first step. State officials and the public need to know where and when companies are fracking, how much water is being used, what chemicals are being employed and how contaminated water is being disposed of. And the industry needs to disclose this basic information before a project begins – not after the damage is done.

However, as currently drafted, the only state fracking law currently in the works, AB 591, would allow the oil and gas industry to withhold critical information – including what chemicals are used and where fracking is occurring – simply by claiming the information constitutes a “trade secret.” Moreover, the bill requires disclosure only after fracking operations are completed, making it impossible to determine ahead of time whether the operation is safe.

Actual regulation is also critical. Both lawmakers and state regulators need to make protection of the state’s drinking water, aquifers and lakes from contamination a top priority.

Fracking requires an enormous amount of water – as much as 5 million gallons per well. It also routinely employs chemicals like methanol, lead, arsenic, chromium-6 and benzene. The evidence is quickly mounting throughout the country that chemicals like these are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Fracking also threatens California’s wildlife. Endangered species such as the California condor, San Joaquin kit fox and blunt-nosed leopard lizard live in places where fracking will likely proliferate. These already-imperiled animals can be killed or harmed in many ways by fracking and the industrial development that accompanies it.

In the end, it may be wiser for our lawmakers to follow the lead of other states and ban fracking. There just isn’t a compelling reason to aid and abet this dangerous, polluting industry. Speak up now and let them know you don’t think anyone should be fracking with California, and learn more at the Center for Biological Diversity’s California Fracking campaign page.

Related Stories:

Are Shale Gas Lobbyists Winning?

Vermont First State to Ban Fracking

Natural Gas Fracking: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s New Low


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Photo of fracking site courtesy of the Department of Energy.

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40 comments

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6:39AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

I am an Indian who visits the US sometimes. I love the state of California. Please do not mess with it and spoil this beautiful state

3:46AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

It might help to get someone to look into the possibility of substituting CO2 for H2O in fracking fluid. Both water and CO2 can be used in Enhanced Oil Recovery, which is related to fracking. CO2 is something we wish we could round up and store someplace safely out of harm's way. Water is something we wish we had a lot more of in good clean condition enough to drink.

3:51PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

@ Geoff W. It is NOT alarmist to question the activities of companies involved fracking nor is it credible to suggest that if one is not advocating a ban on all dirty fossil fuels then you have no business opposing fracking. That is a disingenuous argument. There appears to be enough credible evidence of the risk to the environment and general welfare of humans to NOT be minimal for some states to regulate or even ban it. The question right now is why there is no regulatory accountability in place to assure compliance w/ existing environmental and safety standards. Why would practically all other activities that could potentially impact the environment be regulated but not fracking? I need a permit to put up solar panels but I'm less concerned with gov't intrusion into my life than I am about unregulated business intrusion. Sure counties short on cash might happily accept permit fees for drilling and be unconcerned about the possible effects but don't you believe that if there is even a minimal risk to our health that we should be informed of that risk? I suppose you believe we should just accept the bland assurances of corporate interests. Given what we know about their propensity for distortion and deception, I think not.

7:04AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Of all states I think they woule be a little more proactive but I guess not? what a shame.

8:47PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

One can only wish.

5:36PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

I cannot believe that the state of California with the instability of its grounds due to earthquakes would allow fracking anywhere near it's borders. Where are the individuals in charge of protecting the people of that state for God's sake? Are they all on vacation or butt deep in the pockets of those doing the fracking? It all boils down to GREED these days and there's a lot of money to be made in fracking so everyone is queuing up to line their pockets while the getting is good. When the whole darn state falls into the Pacific Ocean from the fractures, I hope there's one person left to say "I told you so!"

5:32PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

FREAKING FRACKING for billions of dollars that won't help the avg JOE/JOSEPHINE!

5:32PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

FREAKING FRACKING for billions of dollars that won't help the avg JOE/JOSEPHINE!

5:28PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

hope there is a big quake and it swallows all oil companies who are fracking.

9:49AM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

Well no surprise that the CA government is actively serving/paid off to allow fracking, which poisons ground water. The power and corruption of the oil/coal industries, and the fact that THEY control the government is becoming clear too many Californians. Many in the goverment will soon find themselves 'fracked' right out on their arses, for the corruption,no indication of serving the people, much less their best interests

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