Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, injects high pressure volumes of water, sand and chemicals into existing wells to unlock natural gas and oil. The technique essentially fractures the rock to get to the otherwise unreachable deposits.
Valley Water Management Company, a non-profit company that disposes of wastewater for dozens of oil operators in California, has halted discharges at two facilities where environmentalists say wastewater contaminated groundwater resources. The closure stems from a lawsuit filed by Clean Water Action, the Center for Environmental Health, and the grassroots group Association of Irritated Residents in 2015
Water is becoming a scarce resource in many parts of the world. Water tables have been falling in many regions for decades, particularly in areas with intensive agriculture. Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells. This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture.
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.
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, a panel of experts discussed emerging issues as agencies work to develop their plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in California in 2014.
The ominous climate change report the Trump administration released on Thanksgiving weekend could provide legal ammunition for states such as California, which are suing or threatening to sue the federal government over weakened regulations on fossil-fuel industries, automobiles and other contributors to a warming climate.
The parade of trailer trucks rolling through Jay Butler’s dusty ranch is a precursor to a new fracking boom on the vast federal lands of Wyoming and across the West. … Like the acreage offered for lease, the acreage actually leased by energy companies on federal lands hit its highest level last year since 2012, the height of the initial fracking boom in the United States.
You won’t be seeing much of California’s gubernatorial candidates this fall — at least, you won’t be seeing much of them together. The only debate between Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox took place on KQED’s Forum radio program Monday. Prompted by host Scott Shafer, the two had a lengthy exchange about the state’s approach to climate change.
A Canadian energy company will add to its helium operation with more than 3,000 acres of newly leased federal land near Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. … Several rivers and streams flow near the leased parcels and empty into the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million Americans.
Ending a five-year moratorium, the Trump administration Wednesday took a first step toward opening 1.6 million acres of California public land to fracking and conventional oil drilling, triggering alarm bells among environmentalists.
Protect Monterey County, the organization that backed a 2016 anti-fracking ballot initiative called Measure Z, announced it filed an appeal this week challenging a judge’s ruling that invalidated part of the ordinance.
California’s attorney general sued the Trump administration yet again Wednesday, this time for rolling back a fracking rule that the state says is designed to protect public health and the environment. The suit challenges the federal Bureau of Land Management’s move against the rule that requires drilling companies to disclose what chemicals they’ve used for fracking.
After combing through a decade’s worth of Pennsylvania birth records, researchers have found that pregnant women living within two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing well were 25% more likely to give birth to a worryingly small infant than were women who lived at least 10 miles outside that zone during pregnancy.
During the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion in Bonn, Germany, on Nov. 11, Gov. [Jerry] Brown presented America’s Pledge report detailing how U.S. cities, states and businesses will take action on climate targets it set forth in the Paris Agreement. … But Brown was interrupted by members of the Native American community speaking against his support of fracking and contending that his policies have hurt low-income communities.
Although the majority of Americans get their drinking water from a municipal, public supply, 1 in 7 rely on private water wells. Though wells for drinking water and wells for oil and gas production are known to exist in the same geographic regions, their proximity to one another across the United States was uncertain. … “Forty-five million Americans rely on private groundwater wells for their drinking water,” says Scott Jasechko, assistant professor at Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California at Santa Barbara.
Attorneys on all sides began presenting their cases on the first day of the Measure Z trial on Monday, arguing over whether the voter-approved initiative establishing some of the nation’s toughest oil and gas restrictions is preempted by federal and state authority. … They [oil industry attorneys] argued the Measure Z campaign had misled voters into believing the central issue was fracking and water protection without fully addressing other aspects of the initiative.
… as the [Interior] secretary [Ryan Zinke] hopscotches across millions of acres of Western parks, monuments and wilderness with his Stetson-sporting swagger, a crew of political appointees in Washington has begun rolling back the conservation efforts put in effect over the eight years of the Obama administration. … Mr. Zinke’s staff on Tuesday filed a legal proposal to rescind the nation’s first safety regulation on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Over the past decade, innovation has upended the energy industry. First came the shale revolution. Starting around 2005, companies began to unlock massive new supplies of natural gas, and then oil, from shale basins, thanks to two new technologies: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking).
Eminent domain is often used by governments to gain right-of-way for projects such as highways or government buildings. But state and federal regulators who authorize pipeline projects also typically grant the private companies that are building them the right to use eminent domain to secure needed right-of-way.
Gov. Jerry Brown was on a roll, enthusiastically preaching to a choir of environmentalists about how carbon use and global warming are a looming catastrophe for California and the world. … But a growing number of environmentalists argue that the governor’s long-standing refusal to ban hydraulic fracking, a controversial process that has helped revive the oil industry in California, opens the state to just the type of environmental disasters he regularly rails against.
The Trump administration is rolling back an Obama administration rule requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.
Mineral rights and royalty owners have filed a new lawsuit against Monterey County, challenging voter-approved Measure Z, which establishes some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on oil and gas operations in the state’s fourth-largest oil-producing county. … Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and wastewater injection into aquifers will still be prohibited during the stay.
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a letter to the California Department of Conservation expressing their concerns about a proposal to expand the boundaries of an aquifer where oil-production wastewater is being injected.
The suit argues that the U.S. Department of the Interior and two of its agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, failed to fully analyze and disclose the potential environmental risks of new offshore drilling processes like hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, and acidization.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris and the California Coastal Commission have filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s finding that fracking off the state’s coast is environmentally safe.
Is hydraulic fracturing – better known as fracking – safe, as the oil and gas industry claims? Or does the controversial drilling technique that has spurred a domestic energy boom contaminate drinking water, as environmental groups and other critics charge?
With the passage of Measure Z, which has captured nearly 56 percent of the vote so far, Monterey County would become the first oil-producing county in California to ban fracking and expansion of risky oil operations. … Monterey County, which ranks fourth statewide in oil production, becomes the sixth county in California to ban fracking.
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from opening more than 1 million acres in Central California to oil drilling because the agency did not properly explore the potential dangers of fracking.
A coalition of environmental groups had worked for more than two years to persuade [Alameda] county leaders to ban fracking and other high intensity oil recovery practices to protect against pollution of local groundwater. The Board of Supervisors approved the ban 5-0.
A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration’s regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.
A judge ruled Tuesday that federal regulators lack the authority to set rules for hydraulic fracturing, dealing another setback to the Obama administration’s efforts to tighten how fossil fuels are mined.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned the disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste water at public sewage plants, formalizing a voluntary practice that removed most fracking waste from Pennsylvania plants starting in 2011. The EPA on Monday finalized a rule that prevents operators from disposing of waste from unconventional oil & gas operations at publicly owned treatment works [POTW's].
Reversing course on conducting a series of impact studies, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to place a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas well stimulation techniques on the fall ballot.
Bernie Sanders, traipsing across far-flung regions of California as he seeks a comeback victory here next week, swatted at likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for minimizing the state’s water shortage and the effects of climate change.
Backers of a proposed initiative aimed at banning fracking and other oil and gas exploration practices announced Thursday their petition signatures have been verified and deemed sufficient by the Monterey County registrar of voters just days after the Board of Supervisors ordered impact studies on the initiative.
The group Protect Monterey County delivered 16,108 signatures Wednesday to the Monterey County Elections Department in support of putting an initiative on the November ballot to ban fracking and dangerous oil production practices in the county.
Colorado’s Supreme Court on Monday struck down local government prohibitions on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, handing oil and gas companies a victory in a lengthy battle over energy production in the environmentally conscious state.
More than five years after Oklahoma first saw a startling spike in earthquakes linked to the disposal of huge volumes of wastewater created by hydraulic fracturing for oil, the state continues to shake at an unprecedented rate and the number of strong quakes is increasing.
Hoping to expand on similar bans already in place in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Mendocino counties, environmentalists on Tuesday launched a ballot campaign to prohibit fracking in Monterey County, setting the stage for another expensive battle with the oil industry over the controversial drilling technique.
UC Santa Cruz researcher Thomas Goebel suggests that, in fact, we do have induced earthquakes here. His latest paper, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is a detailed study of an earthquake swarm that occurred beneath the Tejon Oil Field south of Bakersfield on September 22, 2005.
For years fracking in waters off California was quietly approved without public notice or studies on potential risks to human and environmental health from tons of toxic chemicals used in the intense oil-extraction process.
The federal government has agreed to stop approving oil fracking off the California coast until it studies whether the practice is safe for the environment, according to legal settlements filed Friday.
As Gov. Jerry Brown prepares for his trip to the United Nations summit on climate change in Paris, protesters gathered outside the Capitol on Thursday to say he hasn’t done enough at home in California.
The issue of the governor’s request came to light as part of a lawsuit against the state by farmers who accuse the state of doing an inadequate job of preventing water pollution from oil and gas drilling.
A group of U.S. drilling states, seismologists, academics and industry experts issued guidance Monday in a frank new report on handling human-induced earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing or the disposal of fracking wastewater.
The Colorado Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether cities can ban hydraulic fracturing, stepping into a high-stakes battle over whether local governments can impose tougher oil and gas rules than the state.
A California lawmaker has proposed a new label for food irrigated with what he calls “fracking water.” … Oil companies sell Central Valley farms millions of gallons of treated wastewater every day for irrigation.
A small group of “fracking” opponents traded heated words with an even smaller number of oil industry supporters Saturday morning on the Panorama Drive bluffs in northeast Bakersfield, during an airing of differences over the controversial oil extraction technique.
The hunt for life is part of a much broader effort called the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, or MSEEL. … Researchers will track air and water quality and measure the environmental effects that have made fracking controversial.
The California Coastal Commission will insist that Long Beach officials and their corporate partners running the city’s oil islands obtain an additional permit before following through on proposals to “frack” 13 local oil wells.
Hydraulic fracturing uses a host of highly toxic chemicals — the impacts of which are for the most part unknown — that could be contaminating drinking water supplies, wildlife and crops, according to a report released Thursday by a California science panel.
State officials on Wednesday formally adopted new rules governing hydraulic fracturing in California, setting in motion some of the toughest guidelines in the nation for the controversial oil extraction practice.
In the end Senate Bill 4 regulating hydraulic fracturing pleased neither environmentalists nor the oil and gas industry, but supporters argue it imposes needed oversight by requiring well permits, disclosure of what chemicals are used, water testing and studies of fracking’s impact.
Environmentalists Tuesday called on Gov. Jerry Brown to halt plans for months of hydraulic fracturing in the waters off Southern California, warning that it could lead to chemical pollution or an oil spill.
Looking not just at drilling jobs but at all related jobs — truck drivers, truck manufacturers, petrochemical engineers and more — [Harvard economist Michael] Porter says the rise of fracking has added 2.7 million jobs to the economy, most of them with good wages.
The Environmental Protection Agency, in a draft report numbering more than 900 pages, said that while fracking operations “have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water.”
Hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and natural gas has not caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday in a report that also warned of potential contamination of water supplies if safeguards are not maintained.
Gov. Jerry Brown may prove to be the greenest government official in American history — emphasis on “may.” … But Brown continues to support fracking in the state’s oil patch, and oil production increases. … And even worse, fracking in a time of drought is a remarkable obscenity.
Despite concerns from some residents, scientists say two recent earthquakes centered in the Baldwin Hills area — including one Sunday morning — do not appear to be connected to drilling operations at nearby oil fields.
Many studies have linked the rise in small quakes to the injection of wastewater into disposal wells, but the Geological Survey’s report takes the first comprehensive look at where the man-made quakes are occurring.
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management recently released a final rule to provide new oversight over hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracking”) on federal and tribal lands. Existing federal regulations, which include a permit requirement for fracking activities, will remain in place.
The question of how the state’s petroleum companies should dispose of wastewater that comes from the ground mixed with newly pumped crude oil attracted a gathering of anti-fracking protesters in Long Beach on Tuesday.
Reactivated faults that have produced thousands of Oklahoma earthquakes are capable of causing larger seismic events, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published today [March 6] in Geophysical Research Letters. … Several recent studies have linked Oklahoma earthquakes with the injection of wastewater from enhanced oil and gas exploration.
More data and research are necessary to best understand the potential risks to water quality associated with unconventional oil and gas development in the United States, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey study. “We mined the national water-quality databases from 1970 – 2010 and were able to assess long-term trends in only 16 percent of the watersheds with unconventional oil and gas resources,” said Zack Bowen, USGS scientist and principal author of the article that appears in American Geophysical Union’s Water Resources Research.
An oil company has sued to block San Benito County’s voter-approved fracking ban in a move that could affect the growing trend of California cities and counties’ efforts to stop the controversial oil drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing.
A paper published today [Feb. 19] in Science provides a case for increasing transparency and data collection to enable strategies for mitigating the effects of human-induced earthquakes caused by wastewater injection associated with oil and gas production in the United States.
The wastewater from oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other extraction processes is supposed to be injected only into wells where the groundwater is already too toxic to be used for drinking or irrigation, even if heavily treated.
Rather than allowing activist-generated hype to cloud the discussion (“It’s time for California to end risky fracking,” Viewpoints, Feb. 4), Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature focused on the expertise of scientists and approved the nation’s toughest regulations for fracking while allowing it to continue, as it has routinely since the 1950s.
At the end of last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned hydraulic fracturing in New York, citing the threat it poses to public health. … Here in California, however, fracking is already happening and is poised to spread more widely.
Already regulars at the Capitol from protests during events like the State of the State address, Californians Against Fracking will once again be on the north steps at 11 a.m., calling upon Brown to follow New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lead and halt fracking.
A coalition of environmental groups concerned over the growing use of fracking by the oil industry in Ventura County and California met in Oxnard on Wednesday night, asking the crowd to gather in Oakland in February to protest the practice.
A state scientific review of what’s known about fracking in California finds the controversial oil and gas production technique is used in nearly half of all new wells, particularly in four Kern county oil fields in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley.
California has shallow, vertical fracking wells that require about 140,000 gallons of water per well to extract oil. That’s millions of gallons less than other states. But the fluids contain more concentrated chemicals.
About 20 percent of California’s oil and natural-gas production uses hydraulic fracturing — with almost all of it happening in one corner of the San Joaquin Valley — according to the most authoritative survey yet released of fracking in the Golden State.
Hydraulic fracturing unlocked oil at about half of the new wells launched in California over the last decade, and the practice will likely expand in a chunk of the San Joaquin Valley, according to a new study required by the 2013 law to regulate the practice.
Final regulations are now in place to establish what will become the most comprehensive state oversight of hydraulic fracturing in the nation, but two key parts of California’s landmark 2013 law remain unfinished.
Not long after two mild earthquakes jolted the normally steady terrain outside Youngstown, Ohio, last March, geologists quickly decided that hydraulic fracturing operations at new oil-and-gas wells in the area had set off the tremors.
President Obama’s chief custodian of federal lands says local and regional bans on fracking are taking regulation of oil and gas recovery in the wrong direction. “I would say that is the wrong way to go,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told KQED in an exclusive interview.
Handing environmentalists a breakthrough victory, New York plans to prohibit fracking for natural gas because of what regulators say are its unexplored health risks and dubious economic benefits. … Environmental groups hope the New York decision will influence Gov. Jerry Brown, who has largely supported fracking.
Gov. Jerry Brown and the other West Coast leaders – Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark – who have pledged to solve global warming deserve a heartfelt “thank you” from the people of California and around the world, especially as Congress stalls on climate change.
Despite the controversy, the state is working to develop regulations for fracking, in which pressurized chemicals and water are injected underground to dislodge gas trapped in rock formations. … The State Water Resources Control Board hosts a public workshop to discuss how and when sampling of groundwater will be conducted, 8:30 a.m. at the Cal/EPA Building on I Street.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is hosting a public meeting regarding the development of model criteria for groundwater monitoring related to oil and gas well stimulation treatments, as specified in Senate Bill 4 (Pavley, Statutes of 2013). LLNL is the expert that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is working with to develop the model criteria for groundwater monitoring. The meeting will be held at the Cal/EPA Building in Sacramento on December 11th, 2014, from 8:30 am to 5 pm.
If you were plotting the epicenter of a daring trend or gathering the vanguard for a revolutionary charge, San Benito County might not be the first place you’d start. … But after a stunning election victory, residents of this farming region find themselves on the sharp edge of a growing movement to ban hydraulic fracturing via local voter initiatives.
Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey and university researchers suggest that the increased number of temblors coincides with the injection of wastewater deep underground, which is part of the process in hydraulic fracturing.
Environmentalists and energy boosters alike welcomed a federal compromise announced Tuesday that will allow fracking in the largest national forest in the eastern United States, but make most of its woods off-limits to drilling.
Two lawmakers who want Los Angeles to bar hydraulic fracturing and other kinds of “unconventional drilling” at oil and gas wells are pushing back after city staffers cast doubt on the idea, urging them to swiftly draw up rules that would bar such practices.
Mendocino County voters have overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative banning fracking in the county, joining San Benito County in saying no to the controversial method of extracting oil and gas from deep within rock formations.
Voters in three coastal California counties vote Tuesday on whether to ban fracking and other intensive oil production, even as slumping prices globally are leading companies to start to scale back on production.
As one of two counties with fracking bans on the local ballot this November, San Benito County has also become the site of a heated political battle between oil companies and anti-fracking ranchers, farmers, and residents. A similar fight is going down in Santa Barbara County, where oil companies have funneled $7.6 million into a campaign against Measure P, a citizen’s ballot initiative that would ban future high-intensity petroleum operations on unincorporated county land.
When President Ronald Reagan was pushing for offshore oil drilling on the edges of Monterey Bay in the mid-1980s, Santa Cruz voters fought back, approving a ballot measure that banned construction of all storage tanks, pipelines and other oil equipment in the city. … Now, nearly 30 years later, the same David vs. Goliath tactic is being used farther from shore.
In greater numbers by the month, residents across north Orange County are calling for an end to fracking, joining a growing chorus of Californians demanding a stop to the controversial oil drilling practice.
As a domestic energy boom driven by hydraulic fracturing spreads, so could strip-mining for sand needed for the controversial production process, introducing risks to water, air, public health and property values, according to a report issued Thursday.
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, injects high pressure volumes of water, sand and chemicals into existing wells to unlock natural gas and oil. The technique essentially fractures the rock to get to the otherwise unreachable deposits.
This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.
It may surprise some people to know that California is the fourth largest producer of crude oil in the United States and has a long history of oil exploration. Since the 1860s, wells in Kern County and Southern California have been tapped for more than 500,000 barrels of oil each day.