Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

State’s fracking rules aren’t tough

Tom Elias’ columns are usually informative and well-written. His Dec. 24 piece, “Fracking rules must have merit,” however, is vague and misleading.
He describes the “new rules” as the “toughest set of fracking rules (in America).” Without identification, I’m guessing he’s referring to SB 4, widely criticized by environmental groups as extraordinarily weak and confusing in language. We are still awaiting the Division Oil, Gas, Geothermal Resources’ translation of SB 4 into regulations.
Tough, we aren’t. New Jersey banned the treatment or storage of fracking waste (New York Times, June 25, 2012). And New York state has an indefinite moratorium on fracking. That’s tough.
Industry, with DOGGR’s concurrence, argues that regulations should not be imposed until the environmental impact report, due July 15, 2015. How tough is that? A total of 1,250 new wells already have been fracked in California without any regulation and we still have 19 months of open season to go.
Elias states that oil companies will have to reveal where waste is eventually dumped. Wonderful, but what are the safeguards that the waste stays contained? What prevents drillers from walking away from spent wells and letting their containers rot? In 1987, the EPA reported 1.2 million abandoned gas/oil wells.

And do we have the state personnel and funds to monitor a powerful industry in pursuit of extracting every last bit of oil and successfully evading California’s oil extraction taxes?
The article reports that ground water basins will be monitored for drinking water safety. What does this mean?
What about methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases? Industry measures of methane leaks are approximately half of those reported by Cornell.
What about drilling in proximity to earthquake faults? We are learning from non-earthquake-prone states that fracking near seismically active areas triggers quakes. And not all earthquake faults are mapped.
These are just a few of the ways SB 4 is anything but adequate. Space limitations prevent further itemization.
“Gasland II” will be screened at the Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St. in Davis, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday. There will be information/materials to send your comments on regulation to DOGGR. Send questions to zbox@dcn.org.
Mary M. Zhu

Davis

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Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 06, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    M. ZHU: " And New York state has an indefinite moratorium on fracking. That’s tough." .............. No, it's not. New York utilities are importing thousands of tons of cheap natural gas which is being fracked next door in Pennsylvania. The result has been a great boon to New York's air quality, as they are burning much less coal and much less heating oil, replacing it with fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania. (See, for example, an article in the Environmental Defense Fund blog, "Air quality improvements are saving lives in New York City.") ................. Now if New York had an indefinite moratorium on importing fracked gas, that would be tough, Ms. Zhu. But as it is, New York's moratorium is like telling abattoirs in New York that they cannot slaughter pigs or cows, but it's perfectly okay for New Yorkers to buy meat slaughtered in another state. At some point the New York moratorium is just hypocrisy. But maybe they are going to adopt California's new law soon.

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  • DougJanuary 09, 2014 - 12:28 pm

    Thank you Rich for adding clarity to this issue. People tend to only look into controversial issues as far as it validates their pre-conceived notions and biases.

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  • January 09, 2014 - 8:22 pm

    Importing fracked gas, is what is responsible for the train explosions in both N.D. and Eastern Canada. The fracked oil/gas contains the highly dangerous chemicals used in the drilling process. Is this an energy we can actually afford to utilize. I think solar is what we as a country should be putting our efforts and money into.

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 09, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    "Importing fracked gas, is what is responsible for the train explosions in both N.D. and Eastern Canada." ............. Neither accident involved gas at all. Both were crude oil. I agree with those who say we should not be moving crude by trains. It poses a danger to people who live in cities (like Davis) where trains pass through on their way to refineries. Much safer, as long as we need oil, would be to transport crude via pipelines away from cities and towns. ............ As to solar, I agree. Problem is we are many decades away from having enough solar to matter. In the meantime, we need oil and gas. That's not an opinion. It's reality.

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