The California Senate is about to vote on a bill, Senate Bill 1132, that would impose a moratorium on fracking and acidizing until the state studies the risks and determines whether these heavy industrial extraction processes can be allowed to continue. The bill comes hot on the heels of news that the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is about to drastically downgrade reserve estimates in the Monterey Shale. Most of the interest in fracking California is because the Monterey Shale was originally estimated to have 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil, but the EIA is about to say “no, wait, we were wrong, it’s really 600 million barrels”.
NRDC activist and Switchboard Blog writer Damon Nagami is fully in support of SB1132. He calls fracking in California a mirage, the promises of jobs and bounty being based on what’s now understood to be a bogus 2011 EIA estimate of the Monterey Shale (see my link above for the details). Further, the lack of a statewide moratorium has left localities “scrambling” to enact local bans. Santa Cruz County just voted a fracking ban, and Los Angeles enacted one a few months ago.
Why ban fracking in California? In California we don’t have much water – you may have heard every square inch of the state is in a severe drought conditions, and the Governor has declared a water emergency. You may have heard we are prone to earthquakes, and it’s thought fracking can induce earthquakes. Fracking involves lots of nasty chemicals, carcinogens, neurotoxins, and on and on.
In other words, fracking has lots of negative baggage and the expected gains from the Monterey Shale are fading rapidly.
Because the Monterey Shale is turning out to be a hollow promise it may be that the oil companies simply won’t follow through on fracking plans in California and turn their attention elsewhere. Or maybe the new EIA estimate will also be proved wrong. Can “we” who want fracking stopped trust that the Monterey Shale will turn out to be a dry hole not worth fracking?
It’s my belief that continued dependence on fossil fuels is simply a dead end street, and “we” must instead turn our attention to proper renewable energy resources.
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