Thursday, April 24, 2014

Speak out now on hydrofracking

By Mary Zhu

To remodel your kitchen, city permits and compliance with regulations are required. Yet you can hydrofrack in California, unregulated and untracked.

You can inject chemicals (largely unidentified but known to include carcinogens), tons of sand and millions of gallons of fresh water per well, under extreme pressure, without regard to earthquake faults, with impunity. You can then abandon the mine when the shale oil is exhausted, leaving the land and water contaminated in perpetuity.

The Centers for Biologic Diversity have documented 10 California counties with active wells, including Sacramento, Colusa, Los Angeles and Monterey.
We are now under SB 4, California’s first law to regulate fracking. Pursuant to SB 4, DOGGR (Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources) is to issue regulations in compliance with this law and provide an environmental impact report. A 60-day period, ending Jan. 14, is provided for public comment.
Here are my concerns in the form of a petition:
* SB 4 and its amendments are vague, ambiguous and provide loopholes for industry. Thus, the Western State Petroleum Association and DOGGR claim oil/gas companies are released from environmental review until the EIR deadline of July 15 (Berkeley Blog, Nov. 18, 2013). It is unacceptable for DOGGR to provide the oil industry with this lead time to amass vast fortunes by fracking every possible well before regulations are in place.
* The deadline for DOGGR’s regulations is Jan. 1, more than six months before the EIR deadline (Berkeley Blog). That DOGGR would issue regulations prior to the EIR is without logic.
* The regulations will be issued prior to the closing of public comments, thus casting doubt on the value to DOGGR of the invited public comments.
* The EIR must address greenhouse gas emissions from fracking, including methane leaks. Industry needs to justify its low estimate of methane emissions in light of studies from Cornell and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reporting levels nearly twice those from industry.

Accurate measurements of methane leaks are critical as this gas is a far more potent heat trap than carbon dioxide. The higher measurements of methane leaks from Cornell and NOAA could eliminate the purported carbon advantage of natural gas over coal (Nature, Jan. 3, 2013).
The carbon footprint of natural gas also must include the tremendous quantities of fossil fuels used to extract it; it is not merely the burning of the end product.
The EIR must specify how our drinking water will be protected, given the Halliburton Loophole, which exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
* Local bans against fracking must be honored and not be pre-empted by DOGGR.
* We stand with the 20 top climate scientists in their letter to Gov. Jerry Brown (San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 12, 2013) that fracking will increase greenhouse gases and runs counter to California’s goal of cutting global warming emissions.
* Given the above documented difficulties in regulating the powerful oil industry, the confused language of SB 4 and the adverse consequences of burning the vast stores of shale oil/gas, we are adamant in our call for a moratorium on hydrofracking.
If you share the above concerns, please feel free to copy the above petition or use it as a template. The addresses are; fax, 916-324-0948; Department of
Conservation Office of Governmental and Environmental Relations, 801 K St., Sacramento, CA 95814, Attention: Well Stimulation Regulations.
Comments also will be taken at five public hearings around the state, including in Sacramento, from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6, in the Sierra Room at the California Environmental Protection Agency Building, 10th and I streets in Sacramento.

— Mary M. Zhu is a Davis resident.

Special to The Enterprise


Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Noreen MazelisDecember 13, 2013 - 3:28 pm

    The latest lefty Boogy Man: fracking.

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  • December 14, 2013 - 1:51 pm

    Fracking, which releases natural gas (NG), is a bonanza for America! Far cleaner than coal, NG also can remove our dependence on the Middle Eastern oil (dirtier), Middle Eastern politics (tough), lower costs for energy and create an economic boon to America. The benefits are so substantial, we could see blue-collar manufacturing jobs return to our nation. But some on the Left want a perfect energy source, which simply doesn't exist. Is it possible they are anti-people? Currently, North Dakota is undergoing an economic boom with super high wages, plentiful jobs, and tax revenues freely flowing. Are any of these a problem?

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  • Rich RifkinDecember 14, 2013 - 3:35 pm

    There's an interesting story in Science Daily this week which discusses a way of using unwanted CO2--a byproduct of fracking--to generate clean geothermal energy in a way which is much more efficient than current geothermal methods. The process was developed by researchers at Ohio State, the University of Minnesota and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This is from the story: "Typical geothermal power plants tap into hot water that is deep under ground, pull the heat off the hot water, use that heat to generate electricity, and then return the cooler water back to the deep subsurface. Here the water is partly replaced with CO2 or another fluid -- or a combination of fluids," he said. ……… More from the same article: "Geoscientist Tom Buscheck and his colleagues believe that the resulting multifluid design will enable geothermal power plants to store energy away -- perhaps hundreds of gigawatt hours -- for days or even months, so that it is available when the electricity grid needs it. The underground geothermal formation could store hot, pressurized CO2 and nitrogen, and release the heat to the surface power plant when electricity demand is greatest. The plant could also suspend heat extraction from the subsurface during times of low power demand, or when there is already a surplus of renewable power on the grid."

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  • James A. Singmaster, IIIDecember 15, 2013 - 9:42 pm

    Only one action can give our children a future, we have to MAKE THE SUN OUR SOLE ENERGY-POWER SOURCE!!!!! We go nowhere except to an over heated Earth with any other energy-power from fossil fuels or atomic fuels as they will add to the overload of past dumped energy already causing CC/GW. Actually, by gettting all our energy-power from the SUN, we can reverse CC/GW. We need to propose viable action on reversing CC/GW by using the SUN as that will put an end to fracking ourselves. James Singmaster, III, Ph.D., UCDavis, 76, Environmental Chemist, Ret., Davis.

    Reply | Report abusive comment


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