Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Fracking rules must have merit

TomEliasW

By
From page A6 | December 24, 2013 |

There is little doubt an economic bonanza awaits California beneath the surface of the Monterey Shale, a geologic formation stretching from San Benito County south along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley right into parts of Southern California.

One study put the possible job-creating potential of this oil and gas trove at more than 20,000. For sure, it would spread oil industry jobs far beyond their current centers in Kern County and some coastal areas of the state. Oil reserves believed to lurk within rock formations are said to amount to at least 15 billion barrels, not to mention many millions of therms of natural gas.

So far, not much has been done with this resource, and there’s plenty of dispute over whether anything should be. The potential is obvious: Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has brought enough oil and gas from similar but smaller formations in Wyoming, the Dakotas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere to turn this country from a big oil importer to a net exporter of petroleum products.

But environmentalists in California worry that large-scale fracking of the Monterey Shale and other oilfields previously considered depleted will pollute ground water, foul the air and perhaps even cause earthquakes.

That’s why the state Department of Conservation issued a set of proposed new rules the other day, aiming, it said, to protect those other resources at the same time it keeps California “productive and competitive.”

The rules, mandated by a compromise law passed last summer, will not take effect for months and are now open to public comment, with revisions possible.

Once they are in force, two things will be true: California will have America’s toughest set of fracking rules, while both frackers and their opponents will be unhappy. In journalism, there’s an old principle: If folks on all sides of an issue are unhappy with a story, it was probably a pretty good job. That’s because most stories are complicated, filled with gray areas and not all black and white.

That’s also true of fracking.

The practice has made a boom state of North Dakota, once a depressed area. But there have been reports of water pollution in several places and a several earthquakes have occurred in far from usual quake country since the technique became common.

Here are a few things California’s proposed new rules would do:

* Force oil companies to apply for permits before fracking and disclose where it will occur, how much water will be used, what chemicals are involved and where waste eventually will be dumped;

* Nearby property owners will be able to have their water wells tested before and after fracking;

* An independent panel of scientists will study risks and make a public report by Jan. 1, 2015; and

* State water officials will monitor all ground water basins to make sure drinking water is not harmed by fracking.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading fracking critic, says it has mixed feelings about those rules. They’re not a complete moratorium, but they do assure the most thorough study of fracking ever, which ought to lead to sound permitting laws and regulations.

The oil industry has known for at least a year that regulations were coming, but didn’t want an outright moratorium.

“We’ve been doing it (fracking to get extra oil from wells previously considered depleted) for 60 years and there hasn’t been an incident anywhere in the state,” a spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association said. “To have a moratorium would make it even more difficult for California to supply the crude oil it needs.

“But we’ve known regulation was coming. We don’t like it, but we can live with this.”

The bottom line is that neither of these principals is happy with the planned new rules, which aren’t permanent anyway. The real key to this dispute will be the findings of the scientific panel and how all sides interpret them. Until that report arrives about a year from now, everyone involved can only hang on to their positions and hope they are proven right.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at tdelias@aol.com

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics