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Cher Gilmore: California doesn’t need fracking

Posted: June 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.

On May 16, the Obama administration approved a model bill for disclosing the chemical fluids used in fracking on public lands.

Aside from being written by ExxonMobil (per "The New York Times"), the bill promotes the illusion that fracking is an acceptable process. It is not, and here’s why:

Fracking amps up

greenhouse gas emissions

By facilitating aggressive and rapid extraction of gas, fracking adds to our global warming problem. The climate change footprint of natural gas, when the extraction process and the resulting methane is factored in, is worse than coal, according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

If we continue to make natural gas the linchpin of our energy program, the U.S. Energy and Information Administration projects an increase in average temperatures of approximately 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2060 (660 ppm of CO2 — almost double the 350 ppm safe level).

Fracking poisons our air

and water

The documentary "Gasland" features interviews of people living near fracking sites in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Texas, among other states, who report a variety of chronic health problems directly traceable to contamination of their air and water from fracking.

Some residents received settlement money from gas companies to buy bottled water or water purification kits.

Results of a survey of Pennsylvania residents in 14 counties and a series of air and water tests showed that almost 70 percent of participants reported an increase in throat irritation and around 80 percent had sinus problems after natural gas extraction companies moved nearby.

The closer folks were to the fracking sites, the more intense their symptoms were.

Air and water samples found high concentrations of ethylbenzene and xylene — chemicals linked to oil and gas operations and directly connected to residents’ symptoms — compared to control sites. (Source: Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project)

Fracking causes


With the advent of fracking, earthquakes are happening where they are not supposed to happen — such as the 5.6 tremblor in Prague, Oklahoma, in November 2011 or the quakes in Youngstown, Ohio. Other earthquakes have occurred in northern Arkansas; Trinidad, Colorado; and Dallas, Texas.

William Ellsworth, a geophysicist who has studied earthquakes for over 40 years and is former president of the Seismological Society of America, was asked if there is any doubt among his colleagues about what produced the quakes in these states.

He replied, "injection of wastewater into class II wells has induced earthquakes, including the ones you cite."

Ellsworth adds, "There is a correlation that shows the largest earthquakes tend to be associated with the largest volume wells."

The fracking industry, however, isn’t required to provide sufficient volume information to calculate earthquake probabilities. In California, with one of the largest faults and one of the largest shale oil deposits in the U.S., that is a problem.

Fracking ruins the

beauty and tranquility of the environment

Would California, which depends heavily on tourism and the movie business for its economic well-being, want to destroy its natural attractions to benefit the bottom line of a handful of fossil fuel companies?

Would Californians who love their beautiful state wish to see it polluted with giant well pads containing multiple wells, miles of trucks rumbling down our highways, and noisy compressor stations running all night?

The shale gas frenzy appears to be the latest bubble

A very detailed study of fracking by F. William Engdahl of Global Research indicates that the U.S. shale boom is "revealing itself to have been a gigantic hyped confidence bubble that is already beginning to deflate."

Shale gas depletes dramatically faster than conventional gas because of its geological location. It diffuses and can then only be extracted by drilling expensive new wells.

Because of the glut of gas on the market, prices have fallen from $14 per thousand cubic feet (tcf) in 2011 to around $3.50 per tcf currently. Most wells are not commercially viable at that price, and Engdahl indicates that "shale gas producers have recently been desperately trying to sell off their shale properties to naïve foreign or other investors."

He also says the gas reserves are about half the volumes claimed by operators.

Fracking is not

necessary to meet our

energy needs

A study published in "Energy Policy" by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark Delucchi of UC Davis found that the world can be powered entirely by alternative energy within 20-40 years using today’s technology at no additional cost.

Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, concludes, "there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources."

So why engage in hydraulic fracturing?

Cher Gilmore is a resident of Friendly Valley and group leader of the Santa Clarita chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.


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