Mike Keefe

Those Fracking Tunnels

Twin Perils: Fracking and Drought

Monday, February 10, 2014
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“Will water pumped from the Delta be used for fracking in the Central Valley?”—a troubling question that appears in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) weekly forum, “Your Questions Answered.”

The answer is “yes.” According to the plan, fracking is a “reasonable, beneficial use” of water.

While New York State imposed a moratorium on fracking (at least to 2015), Governor Jerry Brown — applauded by the Western States Petroleum Association — signed legislation that facilitates the fracking boom in California. Brown has already received $2.5 million from oil and gas interests, like Exxon and Occidental Petroleum, in the state.

Is it really possible to reconcile conservation and fracking? You’ve got to be kidding.

The Delta Plan involves construction of twin tunnels to transport water from the Delta — the largest, most endangered and complex estuary in the state — to Southern California. It’s bad enough to portray water diversions as ecosystem restoration, but it’s downright obscene to accelerate a fracking boom in California in the name of conservation.

Fracking is an industrial process by which oil and gas companies inject massive amounts of water, laced with toxic chemicals and sand, into subterranean shale. The hydraulic pressure cracks open fissures in rocks and releases natural gas. Methane seepage, common in frack wells, cancels apparent climate benefits from natural gas. Methane traps heat at about 20 times the rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

According to Michael Kiparsky at the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy and Environment, fracking puts water supplies at risk, especially when developers drill through aquifers en route to gas reserves in shale. Every living thing depends on water, and one hydrofracked well requires about 3 million to 8 million gallons per day. Frack water is so contaminated, water cannot be recovered, and the chemicals are left in the ground.


The Delta plan also fails to even mention the dangers of fracking on the Monterey shale, so close to the San Andreas Fault.

There are connections between fracking and earthquakes, according to a Los Angeles Times op-ed on “the danger of setting off seismic activity.” Science Magazine reports that “High pressure injection of fluids increases the seismicity of a region … Injection-induced earthquakes, such as those that struck in 2011, clearly contribute to the seismic hazard.”

Sure, fracking is good for business; it promotes growth. And that, after all, is what the BDCP is really all about. But, “Growth for its own sake,” wrote Edward Abbey, “is the ideology of a cancer cell.”

Paul Rockwell is an outdoor columnist for The Montclarion and Hills newspapers. He is also a parent coordinator of Gone Tubin’, a float-tube fishing club for kids.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

"Brown has already received $2.5 million from oil and gas interests", Follow the Money, that is where your Politicians get their influence...

dou4now (anonymous profile)
February 10, 2014 at 7:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)


1. Not a *single* fracking well has caused any issues or problems *because of fracking*.

2. Fracking has released huge amounts of natural gas, which burns 2x cleaner than coal to - and has sent the entire U.S. back to 1998 CO2 emmission levels - which is 5000% more a CO2 reduction contribution than all the solar, wind and hybrid cars *combined*.

realitycheck88 (anonymous profile)
February 10, 2014 at 12:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

1. Not a *single* fracking well has caused any issues or problems *because of fracking*.
because multiple wells have caused problems.

Fantasy is reality in the world today. Check.

spacey (anonymous profile)
February 11, 2014 at 1:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"If you're smoking pot you're not fracking, they're two different things."

-Joe Rogan

There is a documentary called "Gasland" that explores many of the environmental disasters that have occurred as a result of fracking.

If you search on the internet, you can find that some people have attempted, very poorly, to debunk the evidence in the documentary.

In my opinion whether individual fracking operations are causing environmental disasters is more important than when Justin Bieber is finally going to go through puberty.

Why isn't the media covering this issue more extensively? Are they hiding something?

I am all for fracking as long as they are not damaging the environment. Our biggest problem we face in determining this is the fact that the people who own the big oil companies also own the media. And the government. And the banks.

I would support a free market environmentalism approach where the companies who damage the environment are then responsible to fix all of the damages and provide restitution to victims and property owners. This would push these companies to get insurance to cover those type of instances. This would push insurance companies to help regulate the safety of these operations so that they don't have to make gigantic payouts to the victims.

Government regulations do more to allow these companies to hurt the environment and they also do things like cap liability. That is because the oil companies lobby government, even Jerry Brown is highly susceptible. This is why big government is not the solution to this problem.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 11, 2014 at 5:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Would suggest that the author and loonpt do a bit of homework on this issue before getting caught up in the fracking paranoia. Most fundamentally California geology is not North Dakota geology and hence "Gasland" has about as much relevance to us as "Star Wars" does. Here are a few questions they should research: (1) Are the fracking opportunities in California for gas or oil (keep in mind gas is more mobile than oil)? (2) Are the fracking opportunities in deep reservoirs (well below fresh water aquifers) or shallow reservoirs? (3) Does California geology, which is very "tortured" due to tectonics (hint, hint), lend itself well to fracking on a significant widespread basis? (4) How much water is actually used to frack wells throughout the state? The answers will surprise, and hopefully educate, you -- and to whet your appetite, the answer to the last question is that less water was used in all of 2010 (the most recent info from the DOGRR) to frac wells in California than is typically used in one year to irrigate a single golf course. The article would lead one to think that fracking in the state is contaminating groundwater aquifers left and right, that it will be the cause of the next San Francisco earthquake and that, most ludicrous of all, it is the driving force behind BDCP when all the state would have to do is buy and take out of commission one golf course to free up the water. The article is pure hooey.

FormerResident (anonymous profile)
February 11, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Anti-fracking is about anti-captialism, anti-property rights, anti-free markets, anti-personal liberty and anti-democracy. It's about a world view that feels guilty about it's own existence and wants to punish itself by lowering everyone into the dirt so that we're all equal and suffering equally.

Want proof?
Every single idea that liberal-dems propose to solve economic problems is ALWAYS about bringing successful or wealthy or productive people DOWN. (down via taxes, regulations, laws, riots, etc.)

It is NEVER about raising people UP. They *talk* about raising people up, but they do this by hammering producers down.

realitycheck88 (anonymous profile)
February 11, 2014 at 9:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"one hydrofracked well requires about 3 million to 8 million gallons per day"

What? You do realize they only do this once? It only takes place on one day in the life of the well which could be 40 years. And it still uses less water than southern California golf courses and Caltrans. And no, it is not true that this water cannot be reused. Many companies are recycling the water they use.

diver (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 9:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Recent article stated tracking uses 0.0005% of state's water allocation. Nice to get some facts instead of lame hysteria about this issue. Matt Damon has been known to get things very wrong, you know.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 11:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Democrats are downers, when you add it all up. Everyone is a victim in their world. Even successful people who are victims of their own greed. No wonder this country leads in the use/overuse of anti-depressants. Good observations, reality check88. Keep 'em coming.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 11:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Foo, after 137 posts on the Indy website, you have not had one positive comment. You are the ultimate downer. What do you like?

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 11:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Want a Better Economy? History Says Vote Democrat!

... it may be time to review the last 80 years of economic history, Bob Deitrick and Lew Godlfarb have done it in a great, easy to read book; “Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box” (available at Their heavily researched, and footnoted, text brings forth some serious inconsistency between the common viewpoint of America’s dominant parties, and the reality of how America has performed since the start of the Great Depression.

- Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents

- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents

- Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)

- Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)

- Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents

- The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations.

Weary of the out-of-thin-air nonsense mostly posted here to add much, but could not resist responding to the incessant trashing of one side, and flawed, incoherent worship of the other on this topic.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 12:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How do you explain the massive debt that undergirds what you are calling Democratic "economic prosperity".

BTW: your good friend George Soros is betting against the house right now. Care to comment on that, since this is a Democratic administration carrying out Democratic policies. TIA.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 3:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hersh, there is little to like about the Democratic agenda and the progressive bias on finds too much in evidence here. I expect I shall crack 1000 negative comments in short order. Fair and balanced is a good thing.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 4:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you build them, water will come! foo enjoys being the downer at the confab, but oh so predictable.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 4:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My bad Foo. You have 1337 now 1339 comments, all negative. Seriously, what do you like?

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 6:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I like the fact you read and follow me so seriously, Hershel. (#1340)

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 6:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do you like anything? Kittens? Long walks on the beach? Anything...? Sounds like you really like attention.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 7:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do you like anything? Kittens? Long walks on the beach? Anything...? Sounds like you really like attention.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 7:05 p.m

We like good sub-sonic conversation, swims along the beach, frolocking in the water, and debating the comparative merits of Euclidian Geometry vs. the resurrection of the Akkadian language.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
February 20, 2014 at 3:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Bingo. I luuuuuuuv Euclidian geometry. Weak on Akkadian declensions however. How about coming around for some blue-green algae sometime, eh pod?

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 20, 2014 at 9:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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