California has been under a looming threat of vastly expanded fracking since the Federal government released the vast Monterey shale bed for mining. The mining is done by hydraulic fracturing. The stakes just went up on Wednesday, according to an Aug 28 LA Times article. More than 100 environmental groups have formed a coalition and are petitioning for a full moratorium on fracking.
Brown made a public commitment to help renewable energy and combat global warming. Fracking is the last thing he should support, given known environmental damage, lost property value and unpaid costs that result. The only real beneficiaries are the oil and gas companies who would leave a mess for the state to clean up.
The environmentalist coalition submitted more than 150,000 signatures with a petition. The petition is the harshest one yet, as it asks Brown for a complete moratorium on fracking. The coalition letter was delivered on Wednesday and it said,
“The truth is that there is no proven way to protect California from fracking besides prohibiting this inherently dangerous practice,”
However, not all environmental groups support a complete moratorium. The Sierra Club has taken a middle-of-the-road position that allows fracking, but with regulation. Other groups support fracking, but with the strictest regulations in the nation. The problem is that more bad news arrives every day when it comes to the damage that fracking causes. Strict regulation cannot be fully written because the knowledge about fracking is limited and more bad news is released every month.
Other fracking opponents support legislation written by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). Her bill requires disclosure about fracking fluids, plus permits and notification for nearby landowners.
When Californians found out about the federal lands release, their response was loud and immediate. Fracking would draw from the state’s drought-restricted freshwater supply. The process is known to create earthquakes and to pollute dwindling underground aquifers. In addition, landowners across the nation cannot get property insurance or loans because insurers know what few are aware of: Fracking is a man-made disaster that brings property values to zero.
Gas and oil industries may be realizing that they will have to tolerate regulation before they can increase fracking in California. Small scale fracking has been going on in California for fifty years, but the current multi-year drought is a big problem. The late realization that too much fresh water is involved, along with lessons learned in other states have Californians in a very resistant position.
The Monterey shale field and its underlying aquifer are too vast. The surface soil is shared by central valley farmers. California has more opportunity in wind, ocean wave action, and solar power. Even the Western States Petroleum Association trade group agrees that some industry regulation may be needed.
In the end, the only effective resistance against fracking will happen if California voters are able to get a petition on the ballot in time for the November 2014 elections. A vote in favor of a moratorium would be the last word on fracking until the courts get involved.