Fracking

Modern fracking in California is a huge new source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as a threat to our water and air quality and cause of earthquakes. SanDiego350.org is educating the public and local elected officials about the hazards associated with fracking, and calling for a ban on fracking in California.

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FRACTS: Fracking Frequently Asked Questions

What is fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing)?  Fracking is a process to release and extract oil or gas by blasting water, toxic chemicals, and sand at extreme pressure miles underground into a shale rock layer.

Where is fracking happening in California?  Fracking has already taken place in several California counties, with companies targeting the massive Monterey Shale rock formation that stretches from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. Offshore fracking is happening now and could happen in the waters off San Diego County.

What’s wrong with fracking? 

  • Water Pollution and Shortages:  Fracking uses toxic chemicals like benzene (a carcinogen) and toluene and generates massive172174_inglewood-fracking_ALS_ amounts of toxic wastewater. About 5% of wells immediately fail after being fracked, enabling groundwater and soil contamination. Fracking would use and abuse trillions of gallons of water at a time when we cannot afford to waste any water.
  • Air Pollution:  Fracking wells emit volatile organic compounds, which contribute to smog formation and air toxics including benzene and hexane, which can cause cancer and other serious health effects. California is already home to some of the worst air quality pollution in the nation and fracking would make it worse.
  • Earthquakes:  Fracking wastewater wells have been shown to cause earthquakes and much of the Monterey Shale lies directly above the San Andreas Fault.
  • Climate Change: Methane emissions released in fracking operations contribute to global warming as much as coal, or even more. But even more basically, we have a math problem. Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of stabilizing the global average temperature. But the amount of carbon already contained in proven coal and oil and gas reserves is FIVE TIMES that number. So in short, to stabilize the climate, we must leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground – not look to develop new sources.
  • Special permission to pollute: The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 contained the “Halliburton Loophole,” an exemption for gas drilling and extraction from requirements in the the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Why should fracking be banned? Fracking is inherently dangerous and cannot be done safely. Destroying our natural resources and compromising our health for only benefits the greed of the oil companies. Finally, burning that oil will have a devastating effect on our climate crisis, which is causing more disasters year after year. Governor Brown should ban fracking and accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy.

Does fracking create energy independence?  California has long been an oil extraction state and much of our oil is exported. We expect that more oil obtained through fracking would follow this trend as oil is sold on an international market. Fracking California for oil only serves to financially enrich the oil companies and leave Californians with the pollution.

Do Californians support or oppose fracking?  A majority of Californians (51%) oppose increased use of fracking for oil and natural gas extraction while only 35% support fracking.  (PPIC poll, July 2013)

Further reading:

pic April 2013SanDiego350.org’s Fracking Forum, April 2013 (photo: Peg Mitchell)