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Fracking in California, USA


Description:

The usage of fracking technique of high-pressure water, chemicals, and sand has been used in California since approximately 2011, primarily in order to drill for oil. The controversial technique has been used in at least 1,900 California oil and gas wells by different “Big Oil” companies operating in the State. Regulators and lawmakers were accused by different environmentalist groups to know only very little about how and where oil companies employ techniques of hydraulic fracturing all over California. Since the dangerous effects of fracking on air, water, wildlife, public health and climate became more and more public, different environmental and other civil society movements have formed to protest against the usage of fracking in California. Environmentalists have sued the federal government in order to prevent oil companies from fracking on public lands in Monterey and Fresno counties. The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, has also been heavily criticized for not restricting oil companies in their fracking activities as much as demanded by civil society. In 2013, fracking regulations were included in Senate Bill 4 in California. In a joint letter to Governor Brown, Environmental Groups responded to the passing of the regulations, saying that the rules included in the bill “do not consider long-term and wide-ranging environmental, public health and economic consequences of fracking in California”.

Due to its dry climate, California has repeatedly been suffering droughts and fires. It has been reported that the oil industry in California is wasting 2 million gallons of water every day by extraction techniques such as fracking, acidizing and cyclic steam injection. Different incidents of water pollution as well as more than 100 violations of the disclosure rules for fracking and other dangerous oil production methods required by Senate Bill 4 have been reported by the Center of Biological Diversity in April 2014. Also, there have been cases of fracking on private land reported, where owners were not notified or asked for their consent.

Since Governor Brown has continuously failed to address these violations and allegations of California residents, local social movements and residents are still fighting for a moratorium on fracking in California. By July 2015, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint asking the Sacramento County Superior Court to kill the faulty EIR’s certification and stop the state from handing out well-stimulation permits based on it.

Moreover there were large marches in California in 2015 against fracking and climate change.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Fracking in California, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:California
Location of conflict:Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles County
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Fracking has been used in at least 1,900 California oil and gas wells by different “Big Oil” companies operating in the State.

Energy Information Administration estimated that Monterey would produce 550 million barrels. The campaign in defense of fracking has been led by the Western States Petroleum Asociation, whose companies account for 80% of California's oil and gas production.

Project area:At least 417,230 hectares have been leased for fracking
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:Potential 10 – 14 million people (population of the counties where fracking is taking place)
Start of the conflict:01/01/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Western States Petroleum Asociation (WSPA) from United States of America
Relevant government actors:State of California
Governor of California (Jerry Brown)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environment California: http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/
Clean Water Action, http://www.cleanwateraction.org/fracking-california
Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org/
California against Fracking: http://californiansagainstfracking.org
Courage Campaign: https://www.couragecampaign.org/
Daily Kos: www.dailykos.com/
350.org: www.350.org
Food and Water Watch: www.foodandwaterwatch.org
Presente: http://www.presente.org
Forecast the Facts: forecastthefacts.org/

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Desertification/Drought, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:Moratorium on Fracking
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In 2013, fracking regulations were included in Senate Bill 4 in California. In a joint letter to Governor Brown, Environmental Groups responded to the passing of the regulations, saying that the rules included in the bill “do not consider long-term and wide-ranging environmental, public health and economic consequences of fracking in California”, including global warming.
Since Governor Brown has continuously failed to address these violations and allegations of California residents, local social movements and residents are still fighting for a moratorium on fracking in California.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Senate Bill No. 4, CHAPTER 313, An act to amend Sections 3213, 3215, 3236.5, and 3401 of, and to add Article 3 (commencing with Section 3150) to Chapter 1 of Division 3 of, the Public Resources Code, and to add Section 10783 to the Water Code, relating to oil and gas.[ Approved by Governor, September 20, 2013. Filed with Secretary of State, September 20, 2013. ]
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billHistoryClient.xhtml

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

RIDLINGTON, Elizabeth; RUMPLER, John (2013), Fracking by the Numbers. Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level, Environment CALIFORNIA, Research & Policy Center, October 2013,
http://environmentcaliforniacenter.org/sites/environment/files/reports/CA_FrackingNumbers_scrn.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

California and fracking, Center for Media and Democracy, SourceWatch,
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/California_and_fracking

Oil extraction method widely used in California without oversight, by Michal J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times, 14.03.2012,
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/14/local/la-me-oil-fracking-20120315

California City Becomes First to Vote to Ban Fracking, The Huffington Post, by Lydia O'Connor, 24.04.2014,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/24/beverly-hills-fracking-ban_n_5208377.html

Environmental Groups Respond to Gov. Brown's Fracking Regulations, Sacramento, California, 10.10.2014,
http://californiansagainstfracking.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/14-10-10-Response-to-Final-Draft-DOGGR-Regs.pdf

Oil Industry in California Wastes 2 Million Gallons of Water Each Day, by Adam Scow and Hollin Kretzmann, Californians Against Fracking, 13.08.2014,
http://californiansagainstfracking.org/californians-against-fracking-releases-new-data-analysis-oil-industry-in-california-wastes-2-million-gallons-of-water-each-day/

If Jerry Brown Is So Green, Why Is He Allowing Fracking In California, The Nation, by Mark Hertsgaard, 18.06.2014,
http://www.thenation.com/article/180303/if-jerry-brown-so-green-why-he-allowing-fracking-california

Confirmed: California Aquifers Contaminated With Billions of Gallons of Fracking Wastewater, Desmogblog, 07.10.2014,
http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/10/07/central-california-aquifers-contaminated-billions-gallons-fracking-wastewater

California Shuts Down Injection of Fracking Waste to Proect Scarce Water, ProPublica, The Huffington Post, by Abrahm Lustgarten, 19.07.2014,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/19/california-fracking-contamination_n_5600512.html

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

March in Oakland against fracking and climate change, February 2015 (video)
http://marchforclimateleadership.org/

NBC, Threat of Lawsuit over California Oil Drilling, Hundreds of wells being fracked in California, NBC Bay Area, The Investigative Unit, 29.08.2012,
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/What-the-Frack-Controversial-Drilling-Happening-Here-in-California-140956263.html

Other documents

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/California_Fracking.jpg

Meta information

Last update31/08/2015

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