New research suggests that the impact of shale gas on curbing US carbon emissions has been overstated.
Politicians have argued that the US was able to significantly reduce CO2 between 2007 and 2013 because of fracking.
But scientists now believe an 11% cut in emissions in that period was chiefly due to economic recession.
The study suggests that the future impacts of shale as a way of curbing carbon may be limited.
Lawsuit Challenges California's New Fracking Regulation, Which Discriminate Against Latino Children
Today, a Kern County family is suing Governor Jerry Brown, claiming that California's new fracking regulations do not protect the health of Latino public school children. The lawsuit, filed by the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, argues the new fracking regulations illegally discriminate against Latino public school children, who are disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of fracking in their neighborhoods.
California's Government Code section 11135 prohibits the state from intentional or unintentional discrimination on the basis of race. The suit, which names Governor Brown and California Oil and Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen as defendants, claims that the state is discriminating against Latino students by permitting wells in close proximity to schools they attend.
A scientific assessment on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing in California found that, in large part, the chemicals used are not being identified or tracked, and it’s nearly impossible to tell how damaging the process is to California’s water supply.
The study, carried out by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), recommended state agencies ban the reuse of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — for any use that could impact human health, the environment, wildlife, and vegetation until further testing can be done.
“These are things that require diligence,” CCST’s Jane Long told ThinkProgress. “There are a lot of potential issues.”
Mark Nechodom, the director of the California Department of Conservation, which oversees the embattled agency that regulates the state's oil and gas industry, resigned Thursday.
Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Nechodom to the post three years ago. He took over an agency that has generated significant controversy.
California's oil regulator, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, has been facing scrutiny from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after allowing oil producers to drill thousands of oilfield wastewater disposal wells into federally protected aquifers.
Nechodom was named this week in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of Kern County farmers who allege that Brown, the oil and gas division and others conspired with oil companies to allow the illegal injections and to create a more lax regulatory environment for energy firms.
We’re only mid-week, but it’s already been a big one for human-induced earthquakes.
On Tuesday, scientists from Southern Methodist University added to the growing body of research linking small earthquakes to oil and gas wastewater disposal. That body of research is particularly important to the popular but controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which produces significantly more wastewater than conventional drilling.
On the same day, Oklahoma’s government announced that it would officially embrace that large body of scientific research, and start figuring out how to deal with its growing earthquake problem. In the last decade, Oklahoma has experienced a dramatic increase in earthquakes — an increase that has happened in tandem with the spread of wastewater disposal from fracking operations across the state.
Half of the 41 fracking companies operating in the U.S. will be dead or sold by year-end because of slashed spending by oil companies, an executive with Weatherford International Plc said.
There could be about 20 companies left that provide hydraulic fracturing services, Rob Fulks, pressure pumping marketing director at Weatherford, said in an interview Wednesday at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston. Demand for fracking, a production method that along with horizontal drilling spurred a boom in U.S. oil and natural gas output, has declined as customers leave wells uncompleted because of low prices.
Even in the midst of its historic, ongoing drought, California used millions of gallons of water for hydraulic fracturing last year, according to state officials.
The state used nearly 70 million gallons of water to frack for oil and gas in 2014, Reuters reported last week. That amount is actually less than the 100 million gallons officials previously estimated the state uses for fracking operations every year.
Steven Bohlen, California’s oil and gas supervisor, noted to Reuters that not all water used for fracking operations is freshwater: some of it is produced water, which rises to the surface during the fracking process and can’t be used for drinking or irrigation. In all, Bohlen said, fracking uses the same amount of water as about 514 households each year.
On so many issues, California is the green leader, showing other states how it should be done better. But better is not necessarily the same thing as flawless. Right now, California is doing a better job of regulating fracking than any other state that allows it — but, of course, many local activists would rather the state just banned it, as New York has.
The federal government doesn’t require fracking companies to disclose the chemicals they use in their operations, and it has failed to produce data on the safety of fracking. Five years after the U.S. EPA announced plans to study fracking’s effect on drinking water, industry resistance has thwarted the effort. It’s up to states to require fracking operations to disclose what chemicals they are using and to find out if those chemicals are getting into the public water supply when frackers inject their wastewater underground. Most state governments, beholden to fossil fuel interests, aren’t doing this.
In 2013, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a law requiring disclosure of chemicals used in fracking and setting up monitoring for air and water quality near unconventional drilling sites. No other state has adopted as comprehensive a system for finding out what’s actually in fracking wastewater. California environmental activists worry, though, that the law doesn’t go far enough in protecting against the adverse impacts of fracking, from polluting neighbors’ water and air to triggering increased seismic activity.
On Tuesday, California regulators ordered a dozen oil and gas wells to cease production over concerns that the wells may be contaminating groundwater.
Oil companies Chevron Corp. and Linn Energy LLC voluntarily stopped production at 10 of the Central Valley wells, while the two other wells were given cease-and-desist orders. While there is no evidence of drinking water contamination yet, the wells are located within a mile of the surface and within 500 feet of a water supply.
“As we’ve said before, the protection of California’s groundwater resources — as well as public health — is paramount, particularly in this time of extreme drought,” said Steven Bohlen, head of oil, gas and geothermal resources for the California Department of Conservation. “Halting injection into these wells is a significant step toward that goal.”
Water officials in Kern County discovered that oil producers have been dumping chemical-laden wastewater into hundreds of unlined pits that are operating without proper permits.
Inspections completed this week by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board revealed the existence of more than 300 previously unidentified waste sites. The water board’s review found that more than one-third of the region’s active disposal pits are operating without permission.
The pits raise new water quality concerns in a region where agricultural fields sit side by side with oil fields and where California’s ongoing drought has made protecting groundwater supplies paramount.