Some conclusions flawed by lack of adequate data, environmental advocates say,
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The battle over fracking probably won’t die down until humankind slurps up the last of the planet’s fossil fuel resources, and a new report by a California agency probably will intensify the debate.
The short-term study shows that fracking could threaten California ground water and pose human health risks, but was characterized as incomplete by environmental groups, who said it’s based on just a few months of data with big information gaps resulting from lack of complete reporting by state regulators.
and suffers from state regulators’ unlawful failure to report information on more than 100 instances of fracking and other dangerous well-stimulation activities.
The study was commissioned by the Bureau of Land Management after a federal judge last year halted leasing in Monterey County, finding that the the BLM had violated the law when it issued oil leases without considering environmental risks of fracking.
“This report raises grave concerns about fracking pollution’s threat to California’s air and water, but it also highlights the fact that government officials have never collected the data needed to determine the extent of the damage in our state,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.
“A few months of incomplete data simply can’t support a federal decision to resume selling off our public lands in California to oil companies. Using this report as a basis for continued fracking in California is illogical and illegal.”
es of oil and gas production. To separate them in this report is indefensible.”
Among the review’s conclusions:
- Fracking in California happens at much shallower levels than elsewhere, and the report notes that, “Hydraulic fracturing at shallow depths poses a greater potential risk to water resources because of its proximity to groundwater and the potential for fractures to intersect nearby aquifers.”
- The study notes that investigators “could not determine the groundwater quality near many hydraulic fracturing operations and found that existing data was insufficient to evaluate the extent to which contamination may have occurred.”
- Some fracking chemicals used in California are “acutely toxic to mammals,” the report says, while also noting that “No information could be found about the toxicity of about a third of the chemicals and few of the chemicals have been evaluated to see if animals or plants would be harmed by chronic exposure.”
- The report says that “Current practice and testing requirements do not necessarily protect against adding produced water contaminated with hydraulic fracturing fluid to water used in agriculture.”
BLM California Director Jim Kenna told media on a press call today that the review provides a basis for resuming leasing of California’s public lands for oil and gas leasing, even though this study is simply supposed to the first step in an environmental impact assessment.
“How can we count on a fair and unbiased process for evaluating the decision to resume leasing when the head of California BLM has predetermined the outcome?” Siegel said. “First we get the verdict, and then we get the trial.”