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The Fracking Truth

Initiative Is Long on Propaganda, Short on Facts


Do any of the proponents of the Anti-Fracking Initiative even care about the truth or factual historical data? Given the text of the proposed initiative and the propaganda surrounding it, I think not.

First, fracking, i.e., the hydraulic fracturing of oil-bearing strata, has never been used in Santa Barbara County.

Secondary recovery methods such as water injection have been used for many years in most oil fields in this county and elsewhere, with no negative or harmful effects whatsoever. The water used is that produced along with the oil that is pumped or flows from the oil reservoir. For every barrel of oil produced, there is as much or more totally non-potable water produced. This water cannot be used for irrigation or human consumption. So, it is recycled and used to enhance the oil production through the process of injection back into the producing strata; it forces oil that would not otherwise come forth into the well bore.

The important truth here is that the water used in this process would never be used for human consumption or crop irrigation. The other important truth is that this process has absolutely no harmful effect on air quality. And because this process goes on several thousand feet below where any fresh water exists, it is virtually impossible for it to affect potable groundwater aquifers. However, in order to ensure no contamination, existing regulations require that there be cement layers in the injection well, at least 100 feet above the injection zone.

The initiative has a great deal of verbiage about preservation of agricultural land and water, claiming that these secondary recovery methods threaten those resources. My family has operated extensive livestock and intensive irrigated farming operations on thousands of acres for over 65 years in the midst of over 200 producing oil wells. Not once, not ever, has there been even the slightest hint of a threat to humans, air, water, or livestock. And the secondary recovery procedures the initiative proposes to ban have been in use virtually all of those 65 years.

There also seems to be hysteria over treatments that are common to virtually all oil well bores and virtually all water wells producing fresh water for any municipal water supply. Any of these well bores over time “scale up,” much like your shower head or faucets. In order to keep the perforations that allow the oil or water into the well bore open and clear, periodic maintenance is needed, much as you would use Lime-A-Way or some other chemical to clean your home faucets and shower heads. The chemical concentration used goes no further than a foot out from the well bore. Again, it is important to know the truth, that there are large quantities of non-potable water produced from any oil well, whether it is flowing or being pumped. This water is part of what creates the scale and is what is used to inject back in, to where it came from, to enhance oil production.

The truth is that in any producing oil well, after the initial natural gas pressure that pushes the oil out subsides, there must be some form of secondary recovery to aid the oil being forced from the oil-bearing strata. This is not fracking; however, it must be employed in order to continue to produce oil economically. I can assure you that if these secondary recovery procedures are banned in this county and in the United States, they will go on unabated around the rest of the world, and the United States will soon become 100 percent dependent on foreign oil.

How does $20 for a gallon of gas sound?

I invite anyone who believes this initiative will enhance their lives to sit down with those of us who produce food, fiber, and oil — and actually learn some truth. Because, I can assure you, if this initiative passes here or elsewhere, it will wreak havoc on the production of energy in this county and country the likes of which has not been seen. The proponents of these pages of misinformation have no idea what they have unleashed.

Once again, I challenge those who support this initiative to debate those who have operated in the oil business in Santa Barbara County — for decades, using the practices you say will ruin the environment — without any such environmental degradation. The voters need to hear the truth — not the hysterical propaganda.

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