In the vast, high desert of southeastern New Mexico, underground aquifers are a vital source of water for drinking and agriculture. Groundwater has also become essential to a booming oil business, which is sprawling across the border from Texas and needs the water for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operations.
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.”
“Enemies of fracking have a new argument: drought. … The drought, combined with a recent set of powerful earthquakes, has provided the momentum for about a dozen local governments across California, the third-largest oil producing state, to vote to restrict or prohibit fracking in their jurisdictions, as concerns over environmental effects and water usage have grown.”
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
“EPA announced today [May 9] that it will seek public comment on what information could be reported and disclosed for hydraulic fracturing chemicals and mixtures and the approaches for obtaining this information, including non-regulatory approaches. EPA is also soliciting input on incentives and recognition programs that could support the development and use of safer chemicals in hydraulic fracturing.