Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Drought emergency in California raises stakes on fracking fight

Today, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for the State of California. While the details of what this declaration will entail for state water policy remain murky, one thing that should have been included is abundantly clear. If the Governor were to be truly serious about protecting Californians struggling with the drought, he would put a halt to fracking in the state immediately.

The drought in California is in many ways a terrifying look at what a climate changed future for the state could entail. 2013 was officially declared the driest year in California’s history. The first snowpack analysis of this winter concluded that the state’s snowpack was at 20% of normal, equaling a record low set only a couple years ago. The image comparing snowpacks between last year (a mediocre snow year) and this year from NOAA below puts the situation in stark relief:

CalDrought

Fracking for oil or gas is an inherently water-intensive process. A couple quick facts on fracking and water in California:

  • Water usage estimates range from 2 to 10 million gallons of water for every fracked well.
  • Each fracking well starts with some 2 million gallons of water for an initial injection.
  • Taking an average nearly 5 million gallons of water would mean that if all the potential wells identified by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in California were to be fracked, it would require some 200 billion gallons of water.

And of course, aside from taking valuable water out of the system for use by Big Oil companies, fracking for oil is simply counter to any attempts at addressing climate change. The International Energy Agency has concluded that some two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. The Monterey oil that Big Oil is hoping to frack is largely unproven, meaning it should be entirely off-limits from a climate perspective.

Governor Brown talks a big game on climate change. But when it comes to standing up to Big Oil and actually paying heed to what the science is telling us, the Governor comes up far short. Allowing fracking to continue in the state is simply denying the facts of climate change, and ignoring the troubling reality of drought in our state.

It’s time the Governor stood up for the people in his state, truly protected the ever-scarcer water resources our communities and farmers need, and stop fracking immediately.

 TAKE ACTION: Want to join the fight to stop fracking in California? Add your voice to call for an immediate end to fracking here.

Comments (12)

  1. Daniel Ferra says:

    We need to Ban Fracking and implement a Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff through out the Nation, this petition, starts in California.

    California, there is enough Residential Solar to power 2.25 San Onofres, couple that with a Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff and we can solve some of these environmental and electrical generating problems.

    The Southwest is in the midst of a record drought, some 14 years in the making, which means the water supply for many Western states – California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada – is drying up. Last month the Bureau of Reclamation announced they’re cutting the flow of water into Lake Mead, which has already lost 100 feet of water since the drought began.

    What happens if the Southwest drought does not end soon?

    Will we keep using 3 to 6 million gallons of Clean Water per Fracked well, to extract natural gas?

    This petition will ask the California Regulators and Law makers to allocate Renewable Portfolio Standards to Ca. Home Owners for a Residential Feed in Tariff, the RPS is the allocation method that is used to set aside a certain percentage of electrical generation for Renewable Energy in the the State.

    The State of California has mandated that 33% of its Energy come from Renewable Energy by 2020.

    The state currently produces about 71% of the electricity it consumes, while it imports 8% from the Pacific Northwest and 21% from the Southwest.

    This is how we generate our electricity in 2011, natural gas was burned to make 45.3% of electrical power generated in-state. Nuclear power from Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County accounted for 9.15%, large hydropower 18.3%, Renewable 16.6% and coal 1.6%.

    There is 9% missing from San Onofre and with the current South Western drought, how long before the 18.3% hydro will be effected?

    Another generator of power that jumps out is natural gas, 45.3%, that is a lot of Fracked Wells poisoning our ground water, 3 to 6 million gallons of water are used per well. If Fracking is safe why did Vice Pres Cheney lobby and win Executive, Congressional, and Judicial exemptions from:

    Clean Water Act.

    Safe Drinking Water.

    Act Clean Air Act.

    Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

    Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act.

    National Environmental Policy Act.

    “Americans should not have to accept unsafe drinking water just because natural gas is cheaper than Coal. the Industry has used its political power to escape accountability, leaving the American people unprotected, and no Industry can claim to be part of the solution if it supports exemptions from the basic Laws designed to ensure that we have Clean Water and Clean Air” Natural Resources Defense Council.

    We have to change how we generate our electricity, with are current drought conditions and using our pure clean water for Fracking, there has to be a better way to generate electricity, and there is, a proven stimulating policy.

    The Feed in Tariff is a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in Renewable Energy, the California FiT allows eligible customers generators to enter into 10- 15- 20- year contracts with their utility company to sell the electricity produced by renewable energy, and guarantees that anyone who generates electricity from R E source, whether Homeowner, small business, or large utility, is able to sell that electricity. It is mandated by the State to produce 33% R E by 2020.

    FIT policies can be implemented to support all renewable technologies including:
    Wind
    Photovoltaics (PV)
    Solar thermal
    Geothermal
    Biogas
    Biomass
    Fuel cells
    Tidal and wave power.

    There is currently 3 utilities using a Commercial Feed in Tariff in California Counties, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Sacramento, are paying their businesses 17 cents per kilowatt hour for the Renewable Energy they generate. We can get our Law makers and Regulators to implement a Residential Feed in Tariff, to help us weather Global Warming, insulate our communities from grid failures, generate a fair revenue stream for the Homeowners and protect our Water.

    The 17 cents per kilowatt hour allows the Commercial Business owner and the Utility to make a profit.

    Commercial Ca. rates are 17 – 24 cents per kilowatt hour.

    Implementing a Residential Feed in Tariff at 13 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 2,300 MW, and then allow no more than 3-5 cents reduction in kilowatt per hour, for the first tier Residential rate in you area and for the remaining capacity of Residential Solar, there is a built in Fee for the Utility for using the Grid. A game changer for the Hard Working, Voting, Tax Paying, Home Owner and a Fair Profit for The Utility, a win for our Children, Utilities, and Our Planet.

    We also need to change a current law, California law does not allow Homeowners to oversize their Renewable Energy systems.

    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    http://signon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners

    “Solar is absolutely great as long as you stay away from leases and PPAs. Prices for solar have dropped so dramatically in the past year, that leasing a solar system makes absolutely no sense in today’s market.

    The typical household system is rated at about 4.75 kW. After subtracting the 30% federal tax credit, the cost would be $9,642 to own this system. The typical cost to lease that same 4.75 kW system would be $35,205 once you totaled up the 20 years worth of lease payments and the 30% federal tax credit that you’ll have to forfeit when you lease a system. $9,642 to own or $35,205 to lease. Which would you rather choose?

    If you need $0 down financing then there are much better options than a lease or PPA. FHA is offering through participating lenders, a $0 down solar loan with tax deductible interest and only a 650 credit score to qualify. Property Assessed Clean Energy loans are available throughout the state that require no FICO score checks, with tax deductible interest that allow you to make your payments through your property tax bill with no payment due until November 2014. Both of these programs allow you to keep the 30% federal tax credit as well as any applicable cash rebate. With a lease or PPA you’ll have to forfeit the 30% tax credit and any cash rebate, and lease or PPA payments are not tax deductible.

    Solar leases and PPA served their purpose two years ago when no other viable form of financing was available, but today solar leases and PPAs are two of the most expensive ways to keep a solar system on your roof.” Ray Boggs.

  2. Time to focus on renewables.

  3. Rique Pagan says:

    I agree, if all the carbon based fuels were to be brought up out of the ground, we’d have a climate fit for dinosaurs.

  4. Kathleen Kahler says:

    Wow! Any water left for people??

  5. Beate Nilsen says:

    Based on approximately 1500 horizontal wells fracked in 2011, Pennsylvania used 12-20 million gallons of water per day for Marcellus Shale drilling,

    5 million gallons per well = usage for a Population of 67,000!!! (each well) If WE have 1500 wells in California, 100,500,000 people could have used that water…

    About 80 percent of the fracking water remains stuck in the shale deposit, while 20 percent flows back up the well as CONTAMINATED wastewater, which is typically disposed of in deep injection wells.
    Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing, which is WHY they “dispose” of the water… AND YOU WANT TO GO THERE?

  6. CSG is not cleaner than other fossil fuels but it is poisoning water tables, and people. No-one will survive without clean fresh water. Choose between survival or life.

  7. Lina says:

    Does anyone have the source for those California specific numbers for water usage? My impression was that California wells used less water and recycled more than those in the Marcellus formations – but I’m having trouble finding real numbers. Any help would be appreciated!

  8. Lina says:

    I have found this source, which indicates a well in Ca takes 80,000 to 300,000 gallons per well. I’d really like to know where the higher numbers in this article came from.

  9. connie milano says:

    how were we heard before social media sites were born?

  10. SkepticalOfEverybody says:

    According to a recent study from University of Texas at Austin, a leading institution in the fields of energy and engineering, fracking actually saves water in the long run. I don’t feel strongly either way on this issue, and I tend to be suspicious of the purported safety of new technologies, but I wonder why such pertinent information goes unmentioned.

    Drought and the water–energy nexus in Texas:

    “Although water use for gas production is controversial, these data show that water saved by using natural gas combined cycle plants relative to coal steam turbine plants is 25–50 times greater than the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing to extract the gas.”

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/4/045033/

  11. Brent says:

    Water is not needed to frack. Propane fracking actually has superior results than traditional water fracking. 2000 wells have been propane fracked in Canada. No water required except for the crews drinking water. http://www.gasfrac.com

  12. madhen says:

    This is all about getting water the west central valley for fracking. It has nothing t do with farming. Northern California reservoirs were drained last year to create this “crisis”.

    Brown fails to discuss wholesale draining of reservoirs in drought statement

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/01/31/18750103.php?show_comments=1

    I am a supporter of putting solar panels on every building in the state and the nation for that matter.

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