More Research Needed to Better Assess Impact of Fracking in California
By Bob Braaton
Tuesday, May 28, 2014 --County Supervisor Dave Roberts' forum on fracking Wednesday presented the San Diego community plenty of information on fracking, but in the end most agreed not enough research has been done on the unique exposure to risk faced by California with this controversial oil and gas extraction technology.
Roberts said fracking was brought to his attention by constituents and that he is in the process of researching it. "I'm hosting this forum because I listen," he said.
The forum included a panel of experts including: Damon Nagami, senior attorney and director of the Southern California Ecosystems Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Ken Weinberg, Director of Water Resources, San Diego County Water Authority, and David Nylander of Noble Americas Energy Solutions and Matt Weidlin, California Certified Hydrologist.
Current water use for fracking in California is small compared to overall water usage, according to Ken Weinberg, Director of Water Resources. However, he noted as fracking is developed that usage could increase and regulatory protection was vital for our community.
Damon Nagami of the National Resource Defense Council said fracking presented numerous dangers to our water and air quality, wildlife habitat, environment and public health. He noted that at the present time there are 31 registered oil and gas wells in San Diego county.
Warning against a moratorium on fracking, David Nylander of Nobel American Energy solutions, said it could increase prices of natural gas, which in turn has a domino effect on not only gas and electricity, but the cost of water as well.
Matt Weidlin, the hydrologist, informed the audience about the geological nature of the formational rock that is being drilled and how that might affect the migration of the drilling chemicals into ground water. He noted it has to be carefully monitored.
Following the presentations, discussions between the panelists and the public at the event centered around technical aspects relating to fracking in California. What became apparent during the discussion is that there is insufficient information about fracking due to a lack of scientific studies on the subject, relative to California.
Peg Mitchell, a spokesperson for SanDiego350 and Citizens Climate Lobby, said that the discussions from the forum strongly suggest we need a moratorium on fracking to obtain the proper knowledge to determine what the impact of fracking will be on our water, air, environment and general health. She said this supports SB 1132, a fracking moratorium bill, which is being voted on this week in the State Senate.
Fracking is a mining technique in which water is mixed with sand and chemicals and the mixture is injected at high pressure into the well. Up to five million gallons are needed to drill each well and the water is not salvagable due to its chemicals. The current dump method is to pump it back in the ground, under the water table.
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