The California Democratic Party
In an email that I sent back in February, I urged delegates within the California Democratic Party to join me in confronting Governor Jerry Brown during his keynote speech at the state convention in March:
"Imagine the events of March 8th for a moment. Imagine 100 delegates interrupting his speech. Imagine the response from the rest of the room, the people who agree but have yet to state their frustration. Imagine the reaction of the media. We have a golden opportunity to make this election an election focused on Climate Change. We are their most "supportive members", demanding an end to fracking, and demanding bold action on climate change. At that point, there will be absolutely no ambiguity with the party platform's position on Fracking. We want a moratorium, and we expect to see one immediately."
"We need to make it abundantly clear to the Governor on March 8th, that we will not be ignored any longer... Make your voices heard, and be creative next weekend. We need to make our base's position unequivocal and direct. We need to demand a fracking moratorium right now."
And, on March 8th, we did just that. That morning, hundreds of Democratic delegates interrupted the Governor's speech to demand an end to fracking.
"The California Democratic Party convention is normally a pre-scripted affair..." Wrote David Dayen. "However, this weekend’s convention in Los Angeles exploded into an unusually vocal battle over fracking, revealing tensions between the elected leadership and the party rank-and-file." The SF Gate reported on the protest as well: "Dozens of party activists holding "Another Democrat Against Fracking" signs rushed to the front of the hall and stood in their seats at the Los Angeles Convention Center, yelling their opposition."
"Keep in mind that the crowd at a state party convention is made up of party stalwarts, inclined to support top officials almost unreservedly. That this became the site of a backlash speaks to the intensity of opposition to fracking inside the party, an intensity that’s bound to grow over time... Politicians, and not just Democrats in California but across the country, have a choice to make. They can continue an unholy alliance with the oil industry, trading environmental stability for a promise of jobs, and hiding behind rhetoric about stopping climate change while allowing fracking to flourish. Or they can listen to increasing unrest among the public, and align their stated desire to protect the planet with their actions." ~ Salon.com
"The governor was interrupted repeatedly by about 100 protesters as he began to talk about environmental issues and climate change. "No fracking!" they shouted, creating a rumble throughout the massive convention hall." Read a Reuters article. That very rumble seemed to reverberate for days as media sources from all over the state reported on the "unprecedented" protest that took place that weekend. A Democratic Governor, during his keynote speech, at his own party's state convention, was protested by his most loyal supporters. The shock-waves from that morning carried on into Sacramento the following weekend as nearly 4,000 fractivists swarmed the state capitol on March 15th to demand an end to fracking. People from all over California attended, making it the largest anti-fracking rally in state history.
The Fracking Moratorium
SB 1132, the proposed moratorium on fracking (and acidization), was introduced earlier this year by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). If enacted, SB 1132 would place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, acidizing treatments and other stimulation treatments in California.
On April 8th, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water Quality advanced SB 1132 with a 5-2-2 vote. Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) and Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) voted against the measure. The two abstentions came from Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). The abstaining democrats and the opposing republicans argued that the measure would impact constituents that work at oil and gas fields in their districts.
Then, on April 30th, SB 1132 passed through the Senate Environmental Quality Committee with a 5-2 vote. Senator Ted Gaines (R–Roseville) and Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) voted against it. Once again, the opposing republicans feared that many jobs would be lost if such a moratorium passed. Senator Mitchell responded to these concerns: “My community needs jobs, but those jobs need to be safe for workers and surrounding communities.”
The bill made its way through the Committee on Appropriations on May 19th and was put into suspense. And on May 23rd, "the California Senate Appropriations Committee approved, in a vote of 4-2, a bill to place a moratorium on fracking in the state (SB1132). The bill now moves to a vote on the Senate floor. Senators Gaines and Walters voted against the bill while Senators deLeón, Padilla, Hill and Steinberg voted to advance the bill to the floor."
SB 1132 will now enter the Senate floor for a vote sometime next week.
Infiltrating The Death Star: Local Fracking Bans
Midst the battles taking place in Sacramento, the anti-fracking movement in California is gaining some serious momentum at the local level. Communities all across the state are now rising up to put an end to fracking. "A growing number of cities and counties are moving toward enacting temporary moratoria and/or permanent bans on extreme well stimulation practices within their jurisdictions."
"The Butte County Board of Supervisors in California recently surprised everyone and took a bold step to ban fracking in their community." Writes Tia Lebherz, an organizer with Food & Water Watch. On April 8th, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to ban fracking. "It doesn't make any sense to do this in a beautiful county." said Supervisor Steve Lambert.
"Butte County is poised to become [one of the] first counties in California, and the [third] in the nation to ban fracking." Frack-Free Butte County has been building their campaign for over a year now. Today, they remind us what local grassroots efforts can do. As Lebherz explains, "The victory in Butte County is part of a slew of local victories across the nation to stop fracking."
With a population of 55,000, San Benito county has become a focal point in the debate over unconventional oil and gas extraction in California. Southern San Benito County happens to sit atop the Monterey Shale formation. In April, the anti-fracking group San Benito Rising, along with dozens of volunteers, "collected 4,167 signatures to place an anti-fracking initiative on the November ballot. They only needed 1,642 to qualify." The group, led by Mary and Andy Hsia-Coron, delivered their 4,167 signatures on Earth Day, April 22nd. In the following weeks, the county verified the signatures. With nearly 1000 more signatures than required, the initiative was approved. And on May 6th, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to place the county initiative to ban fracking and extreme extraction on the November 2014 ballot.
In Santa Barbara County, a coalition called the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians began working on a ballot initiative of their own. Over the past few months, over 300 people volunteered their time to help their campaign gather signatures. The County Registrar of Voters requires at least 13,201 valid signatures in order to qualify. And, on May 2nd, the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians were successful. They "turned in approximately 20,000 signatures in support of an initiative petition to prohibit land uses related to fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations within the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County." Edhat reported. As Rebecca Clauson wrote in an email: "We just heard back from the county registrar that we qualified for the ballot! We submitted 19, 098 signatures and based on the random sample, they estimate that 16,030 of them are valid!"
The Santa Cruz board of Supervisors voted last September to enact a 10-month moratorium on fracking and all oil and gas drilling. On Tuesday, they met once again to vote on making that decision permanent. "The county’s board of supervisors voted 5-0 to prohibit fracking, as well as gas and oil development within its boundaries." Reports Ecowatch. With that vote, Santa Cruz county became "the state’s first county to ban fracking." And with that vote, Santa Cruz has set a precedence for other counties to follow their lead. “Santa Cruz is the first county to ban fracking in California, but it certainly won’t be the last,” said Rose Braz, Climate Campaign Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “While Gov. Brown refuses to protect our health and environment from fracking risks, local communities across the state are moving forward with measures to fight oil industry pollution.”
Los Angeles is currently in the process of drafting a moratorium which was unanimously approved by the LA City Council earlier this year. Cities like Beverly Hills have come to similar conclusions. On the same day that San Benito Rising submitted their signatures for their proposed county ban, "Beverly Hills became the first city in California to pass a ban on fracking and related extreme well stimulation techniques with a unanimous vote." Food & Water Watch wrote in a press release. And, on May 6th, "The city council unanimously approved a ban on fracking, making 90210 among the first zip codes in California where fracking operations are legally unwelcome." As Grist points out, "Beverly Hills is the first Californian city to take this step, but it probably won’t be the last."
Unfortunately, midst the great strides we have made, there have been many setbacks. The arduous efforts of organizers, activists, and citizens have been challenged, yet again, by labor unions, politicians, and the Oil and Gas industry. The all too familiar theme seems to repeat itself: whenever we make progress; whenever we see success; the industry strikes back.
Democracy Crumbles In The City Of Carson
In March, the Carson City Council put a 45 day moratorium on all new oil drilling. At the crux of the issue was a proposed project (currently under review) by Occidental Petroleum. The moratorium was initially imposed due to fears that Oxy was planning to use fracking in their newly proposed 200 well project. The outcry of concerned residents was enough to push the City Council to place a 45 day moratorium on all new oil and gas drilling so that more information could be attained. Occidental Petroleum, during that time, insisted that they would not be fracking. The council also faced tremendous pressure from labor unions with powerful political and economic influence, demanding that the council deny the moratorium extension.
On April 29th, the council came together once again to consider extending the moratorium. If approved, the moratorium would have been extended until March of 2015. Hundreds of union members from all over the state were brought in to oppose the extension. The opposition included the AFL-CIO, the IBEW, the Carson Chamber of Commerce, and executives from Occidental Petroleum. Coming to show their support in favor of the moratorium were hundreds of environmental activists and Carson residents. When the meeting started, the room was filled to capacity with over 500 people.
"If you don’t stand up for the safety of the residents in this matter, you will not be credible in any other office you run for. If you abstain, then we know you were bought off.” Said Shaaron McLeod, resident of the highly contaminated Carousel Tract neighborhood. Despite the health concerns, the existing contamination of land and water, and the countless environmental hazards that have already taken a toll on the city of Carson, the city council abandoned their once united opposition to new oil & gas drilling. After more than 6 hours of deliberation, and in the face of powerful interest groups, labor union members, and strong political pressure, the council voted 2-2-1 early Wednesday morning to reject a moratorium on new oil and gas production. Councilman Al Robles and Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes both supported the moratorium extension. Mayor Jim Dear and Councilman Elito Santarina voted in opposition to the extension. And Councilman Mike Gipson, who received a $3,600 contribution from Occidental last year, abstained from the vote.
“It’s clear that this project is not about jobs... It’s about money. It’s about more money than any of us can fathom. We’re talking about more money than all the residents in the city of Carson will make combined... When you weigh two dozen jobs against the health, safety and well-being of a community, you don’t have to be a scientist or a geologist or a petrochemical expert to side with the residents.”
~ Councilman Al Robles
In an email sent to me on April 30th titled: "Dirty Oil Brings Out Dirty Energy In People", Latrice Carter, one of the leading members of the Carson Coalition, recalled the events that took place prior to the city council's vote:
"This Emergency City Council Meeting was a reflection of dirty energy in people's actions, brought on by dirty oil at its worst. Watson Land and Oxy Oil Company went to extreme measures of divide and conquer... The volatile measures led by them were despicable. They encouraged pitting union members against union members. In doing this, they orchestrated busloads of union members from Bakersfield and other distant cities to fight against Carson residents. They encouraged pitting Carson businesses against each other, they used children, they lied, gave false hope for jobs, provided erroneous information, paid people with food and gift cards... Additionally, they disrespected Carson's sheriff and the Carson Community Center Security by hiring 10 of their own security guards to man the entrance to the hearing area for the unions and disallowing Carson residents from entering. The Carson Sheriff had to come out in force to send them away. After all had settled and calmed down and resident were allowed to enter, the seating was beyond capacity with Carson residents and people in support of the moratorium on one side; and Oxy Oil, Watson Land, and the union members in opposition on the other."
"After about roughly five hours of debate the City Attorney provided the report and clarified the aspects of the moratorium. He informed all, that if this moratorium did not pass that night, Carson city council could never bring this issue up again. This applied to Oxy as well as all future oil companies entering Carson to extract oil through extreme methods... The elected officials who opposed the moratorium... voted to continue the plague placed on our health... The actions of the elected officials who opposed the extension of the moratorium, is an indication of how they will most likely approve the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Oxy project and allow this oil company to drill under our homes in Carson."
After the hearing, Walker Foley, an organizer with Food & Water Watch, commended the hard working activists from the Carson Coalition for their bravery and hard work: "To the Members of the Carson Coalition: That was the most difficult and emotionally taxing hearing I have ever sat through, yet you persevere and keep fighting, against stacked odds, with the indomitable spirit of people who will not rest until you find your justice."
Darth Moonbeam & The Dark Side Of The Force
The most disturbing aspect of the failed Carson moratorium extension was the influence that our very own Governor had on the outcome. Governor Jerry Brown personally called Mayor Jim Dear hours before the City Council meeting on Tuesday and urged the Mayor to oppose the moratorium extension. Brown expressed additional concern that such a moratorium would block the Occidental project currently being reviewed by the city. Adding more salt to the wounds, Governor Brown made a personal visit to the city of Carson three days after the vote to congratulate Mayor Jim Dean on his defeat of the oil and gas moratorium.
During the congratulatory speech on May 2nd, dozens of protesters rallied outside the building to express their outrage. "Activists protested outside of AFL-CIO pipe-fitting union offices on Figueroa just outside Carson where Gov. Jerry Brown was set to visit to thank union members for helping to block a moratorium on drilling in Carson." Writes Sandy Mazza. When people are pondering the cause of the recent Carson City Council decision, it helps to remember that "Occidental Petroleum alone has supported the governor to the tune of $835,000 since 2006," reports Oil Change International, "far more money than any local community group could ever dream of coming up with."
Brown's Oil and Gas industry contributions go far beyond Occidental Petroleum. In 2012, Jerry Brown accepted at least $2.49 million from the Oil and Gas industry. In 2012, the Governor took another $170,000. And this year, the Oil and Gas industry's major players have already maxed out their contributions to Brown's 2014 re-election campaign. It seems like a rhetorical question at this point to ask: "Why would Jerry Brown, the self-proclaimed climate champion, advocate for a California fracking boom?" The Quantitative Answer: Nearly $4,000,000 over the past 4 years. The Qualitative Answer: Governor Brown is in bed with the Oil and Gas industry.
In a press release, Oil Change International points to the hypocrisy of the Governors actions: "Now, more than ever, it’s time to push back and demand Governor Brown protect the people of California, not Big Oil and other special interests. He can either stand with us and our communities, or stand with the oil corporations lining his pockets. He can’t do both." As Dr. Tony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, explains: "If your going to say out of one side of your mouth: "We've got to stop Climate Change" and out of the other side of your mouth, saying "Drill Baby Drill"---I'm sorry---that's cognitive dissonance... None of that makes logical sense."
As we enter month 9 of our bird-dogging efforts, the Governor is starting to feel the pressure. According to members in Brown's office, the anti-fracking protests are "really starting to get to him." Of course, Brown isn't the only politician who's been branded by the oil and gas industry. Assembly and Senate Democrats and Republicans in California are being purchased left and right. And on the local level, as we have seen with the city of Carson, the industry is fiercely pushing back.
Fracking Our Democracy: The Empire Strikes Back
In San Benito, as Kate Woods reports: "Attorneys representing the oil and gas industry sent a blustering letter to the County supervisors in mid-April threatening a lawsuit against San Benito County should county voters pass the measure..." Following the filing of the Santa Barbara County initiative, a group called "Californians for a Safe, Secure Energy Future" issued the following statement: “This arbitrary ban puts our state’s energy independence at risk, which will result in higher prices at the pump for drivers. The demand for oil will not disappear overnight, so we should produce it safely and affordably here instead of relying on more expensive foreign imports... Voters shouldn’t be scared into adopting a ban that could raise gas prices and threaten the thousands of local jobs the industry creates.” For the proposed moratorium extension in Carson, as we have already seen, the industry was far more active in their opposition, trucking in union workers and oil and gas industry advocates from all over the state in order to drown out the voices of Carson residents. Wither they are flooding the hearings, perpetuating the inflated nonsense of jobs and economic prosperity, or threatening cities and counties with lawsuits, the industry has been relentless in their opposition to proposed moratoriums and bans at the local level. Of course, at the state level, the industry is well versed with the pay-to-play politics of Sacramento.
A recent study was conducted by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause called "Big Oil Floods the Capitol: How California’s Oil Companies Funnel Funds Into the Legislature". The study's findings are quite sobering: "Over the past 15 years, Big Oil spent a whopping $143.3 million on political candidates and campaigns." Says the report. "In addition to its political contributions, Big Oil exerts considerable influence lobbying in Sacramento. Big Oil employs high profile, high powered lobbyists to ensure their interests are represented. In the past 15 years, the price tag for these lobbyists has totaled $123.6 million." When you do the math on Big Oil's expenditures in Sacramento over the past 15 years, the staggering total amounts to $266.9 million.
In just the past five years alone, the Oil and Gas Industry has flooded $56,633,498 into Sacramento.
Here's the full list of contributors:
The Western States Petroleum Association: $23,987,896, Chevron: $13,457,771, BP Global: $3,251,060, AERA Energy: $2,513,993, Conoco Phillips: $2,344,510, Occidental Petroleum: $2,256,230, Shell: $2,127,881, Exxon: $2,105,419, California Independent Petroleum Association: $1,616,756, Phillips66: $1,275,199, Fueling California: $646,799, California Independent Oil Manufacturers Association: $447,528, Tesoro: $313,999, & Valero: $288,459
"The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying [California's] state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State’s Office and compiled by Capitol Weekly." The WSPA is by far the largest spender in Sacramento politics. They happen to be the largest source of industry bullshit as well.
The Industry Mantra: Jobs, Jobs, Economy & Jobs
The Oil and Gas industry continues to masquerade our environmental, health and climate concerns with the typical rhetoric of a booming economy and a plethora of jobs. Earlier this year, the Western States Petroleum Association released a report to emphasize the economic and job benefits that the Oil and Gas industry has delivered to California. The report found that the Oil & Gas industry "is a major employer and leading economic driver in California, responsible for 468,000 jobs in 2012, or 2.3 percent of California's employment." To quickly debunk this hubris, all you have to do is read the actual report and break down the numbers:
Employment: Direct (188,500), Indirect and Induced (279,520), TOTAL (468,000)
Lumped into the 279,520 Indirect and Induced jobs are things like Wholesale and Retail Trade Brokers (100,960), Public Utility (33,350), Health & Social Services (33,270), Accommodation & Food Services (25,410), Finance and insurance (21,950), Real estate and rental, Arts & Educational services, Entertainment and recreation, Ag, forestry, fish & hunting, and "Other" services. All of these jobs exist without the Oil and Gas industry. Perhaps the only real induced jobs are the jobs for "Waste Management" which they lump into an indirect/induced category titled: "Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services" which they claim roughly 24,020 jobs are created thanks to the Oil and Gas industry. Given the clustered title of various jobs---most of which would exist without the oil and gas industry---we can generously attribute ~12,000 indirect and induced jobs to the oil and gas industry. Those are jobs that are literally induced by the cluster bomb of toxic sludge, chemically infused waste water, and radioactive produced water that the industry creates on a daily basis.
The 188,500 Direct Jobs the industry is boasting consists of Private Utility Distribution (32,670), Dealers and Wholesalers, Refinery Jobs, Transportation, Construction, Gas Station Jobs (56,230), Petrochemical manufacturing, and Petroleum lubricating oil and grease manufacturing. However, these are jobs that are not really dependent on California's Oil and Gas industry. Gas Stations exist without California oil and gas production--in fact, the vast majority of our gas station fuel comes from out of state. The refineries in California refine crudes from all over the world. The manufacturing employees are manufacturing products that have already been refined; they are not dealing with California crudes. Transportation, Dealing, Wholesaling, and Construction are not beholden to the oil and Gas industry; and the utilities will still exist in a 100% renewable energy world.
So, if we subtract these auxiliary jobs, we get something like this: Oil & gas extraction (45,840), Support activities for oil and gas operations (10,060), Oil & gas field machinery & equipment manufacturing (1,920), and Drilling oil & gas wells (3,620). This gives us a more realistic number of 61,440 direct jobs. The industry claimed that they were responsible for the creation of 468,000 jobs. In reality, they have created 61,440 direct jobs and maybe 12,000 indirect jobs as of 2013---that's a grand total of 73,440 jobs. The WSPA and other industry lobbyists are going to use their inflated numbers to tout the economic benefits of oil & gas production. They will insist that the continuation of fracking will create innumerable jobs for unemployed Californians. In reality, the WSPA is full of shit and the numbers they tout are heinously inaccurate.
Of course, inflated and misleading job numbers are nothing new to the Oil and Gas industry. A six state study conducted last year found that the industry has a strong tendency to promise nearly eight times as many jobs than what they eventually create. "Between 2005 and 2012, less than four new shale-related jobs have been created for each new well. This figure stands in sharp contrast to the claims in some industry-financed studies, which have included estimates as high as 31 for the number of jobs created per well drilled." That's a difference of nearly 700% in jobs promised and jobs created. "Employment estimates have been overstated, and the industry and its boosters have used inappropriate employment numbers, including equating new hires with new jobs and using ancillary job figures that largely have nothing to do with drilling."
Food For Thought: Given the industry's claim that they've been safely fracking in California for over 60 years; and given their claim that fracking creates jobs; with 60 years of so-called "fracking job creation", why has the oil and gas industry only managed to create 61,440 direct jobs in California?
The Cleaner Jobs: The Core Clean Economy, as defined by Next10, "encompasses businesses that provide the products and services that allow the entire economy to transition away from fossil fuels and improve efficiencies in the use of all natural resources." This includes: Clean Energy Generation, Energy Efficiency, Clean Transportation, Energy Storage, Green Building, and Energy Infrastructure. "Employment in California’s Core Clean Economy has grown four times faster than the total state economy over the past ten years, reaching more than 176,000 jobs in January 2011." If we extrapolate the clean energy job creation for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, with the same rate of economic growth that took place from 2010 to 2011, we find a total job creation of 180,250 in the clean energy sector as of 2013. So, given the fact that the first mega-watt system ever installed in California debuted in 1982, it's fair to say, quantitatively, that we've been paneling for over 30 years with nearly the same amount of direct jobs (188,500) that the industry loves to tout. In reality, using the more factually adjusted 61,440 direct jobs, it's fair to say that in roughly half the time, the Clean Energy industry has created nearly three times as many direct jobs in California than the fossil fuel industry. A transition to a 100% renewable energy future will only create more clean energy jobs.
The Fracking Reality
It's easy to blind politicians with fanciful jobs numbers and economic benefits. It's even easier when the industry can hire firms to conduct reports to show the economic and job creation benefits of oil and gas operations. And of course, the endless campaign contributions, bribes and lobbying efforts makes it pretty easy to pay-to-frack in California. When they say they've been safely fracking in California for over 60 years; when they say they have followed the strictest code of conduct; and when they insist they have complied with regulations; it makes it very easy for the industry to fracture the common sense of our naive politicians. The industry has complied with regulations, sure, but that's easy to do when there are no regulations to comply with. Their code of conduct is "profits before people" and "try not to get caught". So, when they say they've done it safely for 60 years, what they mean is: "Trust us, we have always done it safely. We promise." What is their definition of safety? More importantly, what deserves more attention, the baseless claims and arbitrary promises of a few big companies; or the very real and justified concerns of millions of Californians?
The problems that expanded fracking will bring to communities throughout California are well-documented and the climate exasperating effects of a fracking boom are real. No amount of regulations can make fracking safe. The truth is simple: There is no such thing as safe fracking. Many politicians and industry lobbyists claim that "SB 4 is the strongest regulatory measure on fracking---worldwide." However, SB 4 is far from adequate. In a recent study conducted by the Center of Biological Diversity, CBD issued this statement in a press release: "In a letter to the governor, the Center pointed out that state regulators with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources have failed to disclose legally mandated reports for 47 frack jobs and notices for more than 100 uses of other risky oil production techniques. “This lack of disclosure underscores the failure of current regulations and the need for strong action that will protect public health and safety and the environment." We need a moratorium on fracking now.
The Dangers Of Fracking Are Real
Contamination: There have been more than 100 proven cases of water contamination from fracking operations.
Proximity: Fracking and Acidizing operations are popping up next door to hospitals, schools and densely populated neighborhoods. Fumes from these operations have caused nearby residents to break out in rashes, experience nose bleeds and migraines, and cause respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular complications.
Methane: When leaking wells make up more than 1% to 2% of the fracking fleet, the leakage of methane during shale gas development makes fracked natural gas more carbon intensive than burning coal. The leakage rates nationwide have been measured to be a staggering 5.7% +/- 2.3%. In the Los Angeles basin, leakage has been measured to be somewhere around 17%---worse yet, in California, we are primarily fracking for oil, some of which is more carbon intensive than the Alberta Tar Sands.
Earthquakes: It has been shown that fracking and waste-water injection can both induce earthquakes. Ohio, Oklahoma, and North East Texas were once home to some of the lowest rates of seismic activity. In Oklahoma, fracking and waste-water injection have caused a staggering spike in seismic events over the past few years. In California, we are the most seismically active state in the nation.
Water: Modern Fracking uses copious amounts of fresh water to complete their fracking operations. Fracking, in it's new form, can use anywhere from 2 to 8 Million gallons of fresh water per frack. During a record setting drought in California, this is the last thing we should be using water for. For the moment, we aren't doing a large amount of fracking in California, relying on methods like cyclic steam injection and water flooding. So, as it stands today, we are using 100,000 to 300,000 gallons of water per well. However, as the WSPA admits, the onset of a fracking boom could easily bump those numbers into the millions of gallons.
From Boom To Bust: Crippling The Death Star
In California, the WSPA and the rest of the oil and gas industry likes to tout the already debunked USC job creation study that claims that a fracking boom in California would boost the state’s economic activity by 14.3 percent. As Bloomberg reports, "such drilling in the Monterey Shale Formation, in addition to increasing per-capita gross domestic product, may add as much as $24.6 billion in state and local tax revenue and as many as 2.8 million jobs by 2020, according to the report released yesterday by the Los Angeles-based university."
That study had a lot to do with the pending "oil boom" in the Monterey Shale formation, which, at the time, was thought to have something like 15.7 Billion Barrels of oil reserves trapped inside of it. Of course, months later, that number was reduced to 13.7 Billion barrels of oil. That number, again, has taken a significant blow. News Flash: That number has been downgraded to 0.6 Billion Barrels of recoverable Monterey Shale Oil. "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." Writes the LA Times. "Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said."
Let's do the math: 600 Million barrels of recoverable Monterey Shale Oil is 25 times less than what was projected by the industry funded USC fracking jobs study. So, let's first divide that 2.8 Million jobs by 8 in order to properly anticipate the industry's job inflation tactics; and then we'll divide by 25 to adequately adjust these numbers to reflect the shale reality of a 96% downgrade of oil reserves. Calculation: 2.8 Million jobs divided by 8 divided by 25 = 14,000 total jobs These are jobs that champion a fatality rate that is seven times higher than all other workers in the United States. In fact, from 2007 to 2012, jobs in the oil and gas fields killed 664 workers, making oil and gas field jobs among the deadliest jobs in America.
So, do politicians want to let the oil and gas industry create 14,000 hazardous jobs over the next 6 years and create a minuscule economic boost at the expense of our environment, the climate, and public health? Or will our politicians hear the demands of the majority of Californians and put an end to fracking?
The Fractivist Force Is Strong In California. Last year, a poll found that 58% of California voters supported a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other forms of advanced well stimulation. A poll released earlier this week shows that 68% of California Voters support a moratorium on fracking, acidizing and other forms of unconventional well stimulation. That means that 24% of the people who didn't support a moratorium last year have experienced a change of heart on the issue. The study also found that 78% of California Democrats support a moratorium on fracking.
The public's opinion on fracking has taken a monumental shift over the past few years and the anti-fracking movement in California is growing stronger by the day. The Democratic party's rank and file members have made their voices heard; and we will hold our elected officials accountable on this issue from here on out. The data is mounting and the evidence continues to unravel the veil of deception that the industry has cast over the real dangers of fracking. The environmental, climate and health concerns are real; the scientific evidence grows stronger by the day. And now, with SB 1132 on the Senate floor, the only thing that must change is the will of our elected leaders. Will they remain beholden to the oil and gas empire, blinded by the dark side of money, deception, and deceit? Or will they finally see past the illusion that has been cast over them, and finally represent the people they were elected to serve? One thing is for sure: The anti-fracking movement in California will continue to grow, our collective resistance will continue to intensify, and we will ban fracking in our state.
"You do not measure the fruit of your action, you have to measure your obligation for action. You have to find out what's the right thing to do. THAT is your duty. Whether you win or lose is not the issue. The obligation is to do the right thing."
~ Vandana Shiva