Daily Archives: July 7, 2014

5 Shocking Places Where Fracking Is Taking Off

As the oil and gas boom continues, these areas are devastated.

Photo Credit: Pinedale Anticline DSEIS

July 1, 2014 |

By now, many people have heard about the booming Bakken Shale in North Dakota where there is a mad rush for oil, enabled by the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a practice that pumps millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand underground to break rock and release hydrocarbons.

The Bakken has garnered big media attention and so too has Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale and the gas-rich Marcellus Shale in the Northeast. But more than these big shale plays are on the table. Fracking is happening in 17 states and more than 80,000 wells have been drilled or permitted in the last nine years — some of these in surprising (and alarming) places.

From scenic coastal waters to vital agricultural land, here are five places where fracking could soon be taking off.

1. California’s Vital Farmlands. Kern County in California’s Central Valley is part of the heart of the state’s $43 billion a year agriculture industry and it has made headlines frequently as ground zero for California’s crippling drought. Dairy is big in Kern and farmers (mostly large agribusiness) also grow almonds, pistachios, grapes, cotton, carrots, onions, citrus and much more.

Diminished water supplies and overdrawn aquifers have farmers offering big bucks for water this year. But they may have to outbid another heavy weight — the oil industry. Kern County is the top oil-producing county in the state (although production tumbled nearly 50 percent between 1985 and 2011) and its Holy Grail is the Monterey Shale, a deep underground rock formation that was estimated to hold 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil – twice as much as North Dakota’s Bakken Shale.

Trying to get at more oil has meant more drilling and not just in Kern’s historical oilfields. In small agricultural towns in the county like Shafter and Wasco, wells are being drilled and now fracked in almond and pistachio orchards. It’s hard to tell exactly how many wells have been fracked – the state hasn’t required regulation of fracking, although that’s in the works.

Maps like this one from FracTracker show clusters of fracked wells along the oilfields that line Highway 33 (also known as the Petroleum Highway) and around Shafter and Wasco. The state’s Department of Conservation shows notices to hydraulically fracture 100 wells in Kern in the span of a month this spring.

Is Kern poised to take off like the Bakken? It’s unclear. Estimates of its vast reserves in the Monterey were recently reduced – drastically. The amount of oil now deemed economically recoverable was cut 96 percent, to 600 million barrels, although that hasn’t yet deterred industry from trying anyway.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Congress’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change – The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/congresss-head-in-the-sand-approach-to-climate-change/2014/07/06/656db75e-0167-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html
By Editorial Board July 6 at 7:36 PM

ANY GOOD business executive knows that the world is full of risks, ignored at a company’s peril. Interest rates could spike. China could change its currency policy. Chaos in Iraq could push up gasoline prices. Smart firms account for these possibilities as best they can, adjusting business plans so that they aren’t caught flat-footed. The same can be said of wise societies.

In late June , a bipartisan group of economic leaders argued that the United States must take this approach when facing the risks of climate change. It’s still not perfectly clear how sensitive the climate will be to a given increase in atmospheric greenhouse-gas emissions. Nor is it perfectly clear how ongoing temperature change will affect complicated Earth systems. But these are not excuses for doing nothing, or too little, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

To back up its claims, the group — led by, among others, Hank Paulson and Bob Rubin, treasury secretaries for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, respectively — commissioned an analysis of the risks that climate change poses to the United States. They only attempted to quantify the impact of a few changes that scientists are confident will occur to some degree with unabated warming: sea-level rise, higher storm surges, heat extremes, higher demand for energy and changes in agricultural production. As with a climate assessment the Obama administration published this year, the results should — but probably won’t — snap Congress into action.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice