Highly anticipated Fracking Symposium finally happened on Sept. 23rd with closer to 800 City Leaders, Industry Leaders, Media, and Citizens gathered to educate themselves of the “Hydraulic Fracking” and what it could do to our earth quake prone state and our cities. Many were skeptical and most of us did not have much knowledge of fracking how it occurs what is the process and unfortunately not even the experts seems to have data to back up that this indeed will or will not affect the climate change or damage the earth.
Let me first Congratulate for the well-organized event by Dr. David D. Bowman, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and professor of geological sciences at Cal State Fullerton, the NSM Department, and California State University, Fullerton. The symposium was organized to assure that everybody: policy makers, leaders and citizens are all on the same page.
Are we really?
First let me introduce the impressive panelists. (You can see more information at the Cal State Web Site, http://nsm.fullerton.edu/fracking/panelists.)
Dr. Steve Bohlen, State Oil and Gas Supervisor and Head of the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (D.O.G.G.R.).
Dr. Bohlen was appointed by Governor Brown on June 2, 2014 as State Oil and Gas Supervisor and head of the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (D.O.G.G.R.). Please see his qualifications and experience on the web site which is plenty.
Dr. Robert Graves, U.S.G.S. a Research Geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pasadena Field Office and is the Southern California Regional Coordinator for the U.S.G.S. Earthquake Hazards Program. Dr. Graves’s expertise is earthquake seismology.
Dr. W Richard Larton, an associate professor of hydrogeology at Cal State Fullerton. His expertise is soil and water contamination; hydrology and surface water, wetlands, and coastal monitoring; field sampling techniques; and well hydraulics. In addition to his academic work, Dr. Laton serves as a consultant to the groundwater and environmental industries.
Susan Nakamura, S.C.A.Q.M.D. is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Ms. Nakamura’s responsibilities cover toxics rulemaking, the Clean Communities Plan, California Environmental Quality Act, and the Air Quality Management Plan. Ms. Nakamura’s team developed Rule 1148.2 which was adopted April 5, 2013 and requires operators and chemical suppliers to notify and report specific information to the S.C.A.Q.M.D. regarding oil and gas operations.
Mark Zeko, Environmental Engineering and Contracting Inc.
Mark Zeko is Vice President and Principal Hydro geologist at Environmental Engineering & Contracting Inc. Mr. Zeko is a registered professional geologist/hydro geologist in 14 states and specializes in the remediation of groundwater, soil, and soil vapor impacted by industrial and commercial land uses.
Trent Rosenlieb, LINN Energy
Trent Rosenlieb is the Asset Manager for LINN Energy. He is a Registered Petroleum Engineer in the State of California with over 30 years of diverse experience in oil and natural gas exploration and production, with the majority of his professional career spent in the California oil and gas producing regions. His experiences have provided for a strong background in operational issues in rural and urban areas. He has been involved in critical dealings with land owners and regulatory agencies; working towards science and fact based solutions.
Another panelist was brought into address health issues of fracking.
There were a good number of presence from activist groups opposing “No Fracking” and unfortunately not a single group was invited to participate at the symposium. The Organizations presented were; Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, Stop Fracking Brea, Food Water Watch, Culver City Ground Zero, Height Soil Watch, Earth Works – Blackout in the Gas Patch, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, Oil & Gas Accountability Project, just a few to my knowledge who were in attendance.
And one group for “Fracking,” “Californians for Energy Independence.”
WHAT IS FRACKING?
With all these well versed speakers, Dr. Steve Bohlen started the symposium with his presentation. What is “Hydraulic Fracking?” It is not a drilling process. It is although a mechanical process.
According to Food & Water Watch; Fracking, or hydraulic fracking is the process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas.
Dr. Bohlen explained this mechanical process; high enough to fracture rocks and extract gas and oil, yet highly engineered short term process. The extraction of Gas and Oil can occur either through Natural Process or Fracking. In North Dakota they extract about 1 Million barrels compared to 600 barrels per day in California. So are we better than North Dakota? The fracking occurs well below ground water level.
FRACKING IS NOT THE CULPRIT FOR EARTH QUAKES?
Fracking was not the culprit of injections or other but mainly has to do with well completion. The problem lies in, not cleaning and taking care of the wells. And the chemicals used are toxic and it can contaminate. But these chemicals are mostly household chemicals according to most of the panelists.
If so what are we worried about? I think most of the audience was much more skeptical than the presentations geared toward there’s nothing to worry about scenario.
SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES:
The areas of significant impact on Natural Resources and our Cities occur on many levels:
- Ground Water
- Earth Quakes
- Water Quality
- Soil Contamination
- Natural Habitats
DOGGR AND REGULATIONS:
According to DOGGR “California’s requirements for the protection of underground resources and well construction standards provide a first line of protection from potential damage caused by hydraulic fracturing. However, California’s regulations do not require notification to the Division when hydraulic fracturing occurs.” State wide Data presents that only 1505 disclosures received voluntarily. “There is a gap between the requirements placed on oil and gas operators to safely construct and maintain their wells, and the information they provide to the Division about hydraulic fracturing operations and steps taken to protect resources and the environment. The Department’s pending regulatory process is intended to close that gap.”
D.O.G.G.R is focusing on first three Natural Resources for Regulatory and Policy aspects. It is currently in works and require the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to be conducted, and completed, an independent scientific study on well stimulation treatments, including acid well stimulation and hydraulic fracturing treatments, on or before January 1st 2015 and the regulations are to go into effect on July 2015. Now in effect SB 4 – Pavley. Oil and gas: well stimulation. Read here – http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB4
For more Information go to D.O.G.G.R site – http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dog/Pages/Index.aspx
I believe this is good news.
THE DANGER OF FRACKING:
The dangers of fracking according to “Oil & Gas Accountability Project,” states exhaust fumes from heavy equipment can escape into the AIR. Many fracturing chemicals are hazardous, and may contaminate SOIL if spilled on site. Fracturing fluids may be injected into or come in contact with fresh WATER aquifers. The experts agree on these faults could occur and the reason DOGGR is considering the regulations and policies to minimize the risks.
There is only one incident documented by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1982 of ground water contamination. There had been 42,000 clean ups. Regulations as a solution target, Ground Water Monitoring and Background Testing.
Volume is a problem. Big part of chemical is sand. Is this a formula for Earth Quakes?
According to Dr. Robert Graves, Hydraulic Fracking or Fracking very rarely causes Earth Quakes of significance M > 3 (Magnitude greater than 3.) Long Beach Earth Quake has been related to oil and fluid extraction. The pressure need to be kept at right level and closely maintained.
In Southern California oil extraction activity pre-dates earth quake monitoring. First oil wells dated back to 1890’s. And systematic monitoring of earth quakes occurred in 1932. Wells and Faults. Is there a correlation of these two? The answer according to experts is “NO.” Maybe it’s not a proven theory? Yet what’s happening in Oklahoma proves otherwise?
According to LINN Energy, Asset Manager Mr. Trent Rosenlieb the whole process is only a two hour operation. The preparations, equipment, resources consume the time.
And thanks to Ms. Nakamura and her team developing Rule 1148.2of Notification and Reporting, the Air Quality is monitored and notify sensitive receptors such as houses, hospitals etc.
The argument or the education given to the public was that fracking happens in shallow depths and the ground water is not affected by this activity. It is true that deep down the earth fracturing happens.
My argument to all the readers who had the patience to read this through; if a mirror has fractures sooner or later it’s going to fall apart. So could we conclude that these fractures would not crack and change the layers of the earth? Isn’t this an environmental issue that we should take into consideration while we are working on Climate Change? Could we safely assume that there is no chemical effects on our soil or water because of this activity?
The panelists pointed out that Gas Stations all around us and those gas wells, dry cleaners, waste water lagoons, landfills, fertilizer/pesticides, can cause more damage than fracking. We should start monitoring these wells and other mentioned as part of the solution to protect our environment and out planet?
We as Citizens of this World has a responsibility to use, develop and preserve our Mother Earth. Acting responsibly of our development will enhance quality of life for us today and will help preserve our earth for future.
P.S. Picture credit goes to its original authors.
This article was first published on Sept. 28th via LI.