2014 was a great year of those who think we should reconsider fracking. In December, Governer Cuomo issued a ban on hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing the lack of scientific data on public health effects. California, with it's long history of oil production, has been slow to address the adverse effects of the hydraulic fracking. Hydraulic fracturing (also known as hydrofracturing, “fracking”, or “fracing”) is the high-pressure injection of a mix of water, chemical additives (0.5%) and proppants (sand or silica that holds open the fractures) into an oil or gas reservoir.
The list of chemicals used is closely guarded by oil companies. Currently there are over 3,000 wells in CA where large quantities of water are being injected into the earth. Recent data from oil companies in CA shows waste water from wells has a high benzene concentration. Levels of benzene is up to 700 times the federal standard have been found in waste water from fracking. It has also been discovered that in some cases the waste water was injected into disposal wells that contain safe drinking water (more details here).
On February 7, 2015, thousands gathered to urge California Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking. These citizens are concerned with the health of those who live near these wells (there are over 500 wells in the Los Angeles basin) and thousands of wells in the central valley (where the majority of produce is grown for the US market).
California is in a midst of a record drought. Agriculture uses a significant amount of groundwater for plant production. Water and air are vital to our existence. We cannot afford to not ensure our water supply is safe from industrial pollution. It is time for the Governor to implement at least a moratorium on new wells until the environmental impact studies are in (the scientific studies and Environmental Impact Report are due later this year). The long term impact on our health and our vital agriculture industry (nearly 43 billion in sales a year) is far more important than the short term impact of additional crude oil.