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Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Chapter Submits Comments to State Regulatory Board Regarding Lack of Oversight for Fracking; Public Concern Grows

May 2013
Monterey South County Does Monterey County need a fracking rig here? Big Oil says yes... we say No! Photograph: Steve Zmak

The California Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has recently come under fire for its lack of regulation of "fracking," the process of hydraulic fracturing, an oil and natural gas extraction technique that involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and assorted chemicals into the ground. In October 2012, Sierra Club and Earth Justice sued DOGGR to block approval of new oil and gas wells because State regulators have allegedly failed to consider or adequately analyze risks of fracking. This year the agency held five state-wide hearings to receive public input on a "discussion draft" report on proposed regulations. The final hearing was held in Monterey. Chapter members joined a group of about 70 participants from Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties to voice concerns about fracking in the 1750 square mile area which contains Monterey shale.

Attached is the Ventana Chapter comment letter from our Energy Committee members Rich Fox and Kevin Collins to DOGGR regarding the new fracking regulations they are trying to develop.

Sierra Club, labor, health professionals, farmers, ranchers and other groups have now also stepped up lobbying for stricter regulations on any new fracking until there's certainty that it does not and will not harm public health and the environment. We want to know what the chemicals the industry is using in fracking and in what quantities and how that is effecting the environment.

Letters supporting stricter legislation focused on these points: Fracking is already taking place in at least 9 counties in California and is now slated for expansion in many areas across the state. Across the nation, fracking and its resulting toxic wastewater has developed an extensive track record of spills, accidents, leaks, pollution, and property damage. California already has serious water contamination and air pollution problems, and fracking will only worsen these grave threats to public health. The pollution and intense industrial development associated with fracking will also negatively impact key wildlife and native plant habitat and our agricultural industry. There is also evidence that fracking will aggravate California's climate crisis. Studies suggest that fracking causes such profuse methane emissions that "fracked" natural gas can have a greater greenhouse gas footprint than coal.

See a related article which discusses the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity's victory last month in Federal court regarding fracking and BLM oil leases purchased by Occidental Petroleum in auctions in South Monterey County. Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) is the fourth-largest U.S. oil and gas company. Through its subsidiary Occidental Oil and Gas Corp., the company explores, develops and markets crude oil and natural gas. Its Occidental Chemical Corp. division manufactures and markets a variety of basic chemicals, polymers and plastics. In the United States, Oxy is the largest oil producer in Texas and the largest natural gas producer in California, and also has productions in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. In the Middle East/North Africa region, Oxy holds assets in Libya, Oman, Qatar and Yemen.

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