One in seven Americans drink from private wells, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Nitrate concentrations rose significantly in 21% of regions where USGS researchers tested groundwater from 2002 through 2012, compared with the 13 prior years. … “The worst-kept secret is how vulnerable private wells are to agricultural runoff,” says David Cwiertny, director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination.
A day after proposing a tax on drinking water, Gov. Gavin Newsom took a “surprise” road trip to meet with Stanislaus County residents in a community known for having unsafe wells. Newsom and his cabinet made their first stop at the Monterey Park Tract in Ceres, where he held a roundtable discussion with people who for years had to use bottled water for drinking and cooking because their community’s two wells were long-contaminated with nitrates and arsenic.
The House approved legislation that would fund and reopen the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Forest Service in an 240-179 vote on Friday, the latest effort by Democrats to put pressure on Republicans and President Trump to end the partial shutdown. … Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring any of the bills up to a vote in the Senate until there is a deal between Trump and Democrats on the president’s demand for border wall funding.
The two-week-old shutdown has halted one of the federal government’s most important public health activities, the inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites for pollution violations.
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — have pushed for a statewide moratorium on the controversial oil production technique. With those efforts stalled in the state legislature, activists are taking the fight to the county level.
States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater.
“Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America’s drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.”
“The state Senate on Wednesday failed to muster the votes needed to set a moratorium on the oil drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, until a study determines that it does not pose a health risk for the public.”
“An effort to halt the oil extraction process known as fracking failed in the California Senate as lawmakers rejected a bill that would have banned the practice until a state-commissioned study proves it is safe.”
From the Monterey County Herald, in a commentary by Bob Martin:
“… The truth is, hydraulic fracturing is a safe and proven energy extraction technique that has been used without incident for more than half of a century in California, and arbitrary bans on oil production threaten our state’s energy independence.”
From the Sacramento Business Journal Morning Edition blog:
“Lawmakers in the state Senate will decide this week on a law that would halt fracking in California until state government officials deem it safe – a move that could prevent the creation of some 195,000 jobs, according to figures provided by the oil industry.”
“The fierce debate over “fracking” in California grew louder Wednesday with a new report that drastically reduced the estimate of oil that existing technology could extract from the state’s massive underground reserve.”
“Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California’s vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national ‘black gold mine’ of petroleum. … It had been seen as an enormous bonanza, reducing the nation’s need for foreign oil imports through the use of the latest in extraction techniques, including acid treatments, horizontal drilling and fracking.”
“Donning hazardous material suits and carrying signs, more than a dozen anti-fracking protesters turned up at the California Coastal Commission meeting in Inverness Thursday to ask the regulatory agency to outlaw the practice.”