When it comes to fighting hydraulic fracking for oil and gas, California’s muscular environmental movement has gone zero-for-five over the last two years against Governor Jerry Brown. The bloodied green leadership on Tuesday again called on Brown to halt plans for new hydraulic fracturing in the waters off Southern California.
State regulators late last month approved nine permits for operator Thums Long Beach Company to perform hydraulic fracking in and around Long Beach Harbor from August to December.
Center for Biological Diversity attorney Kristen Monsell reacted with a statement: “Gov. Jerry Brown’s scandal-plagued oil agency today finalized weak regulations for hydraulic fracturing that fail to protect California communities from fracking pollution.” Monsell pointed out that the permits would be for the first offshore hydraulic fracturing in the state since a fracking law was passed in 2013.
Kevin Tougas, oil operations manager for the city of Long Beach, told the Sacramento Bee that the state regulatory approval was a preliminary step and that “several factors, including the market price of oil, will be taken into consideration before submitting some or all of these permits to the state for the next and final step of approval.” He added that “the city is confident that proper safeguards are in place to protect the environment.”
Governor Brown is very aware that California may be on the cusp of an spectacular oil fracking boom along its 1,750-square-mile California Monterrey Shale Formation–which, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration is the largest potential region for “tight oil” shale deposits in America. State studies reveal that up to half of the hundreds of new wells drilled each year in the San Joaquin Valley have been “fracked” since 2013, as Breitbart News has reported.
With terrific beauty and fabulous tech entrepreneurs, California mimics Greece as a failed experiment in liberalism that has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. at 23.4 percent. In the long term, the state is grossly insolvent, with about $500 billion in debt, but it remains alive–on life support–as long as $12 billion of extra capital gains taxes hit each year.
Earthquakes have disturbed the layers of shale rock that run under most of the western state, making fracking more challenging than in a region like North Dakota. But when the next cyclical El Niño brings the huge amounts of water necessary for fracking, California could be rescued by a fracking boom, just like the one that lifted North Dakota from the bottom fifth to the second-richest state by per-capita GDP in just one decade.
In response to the state’s three-year drought, Governor Brown signed an executive order implementing California’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions, which require cities and towns to cut their water usage by 25 percent. But in specifically exempting oil company water use for fracking, Brown showed his rock-solid support for fracking.
Gov. Brown has tried to sound high-minded about water use, but the real issue is that California’s State Budget is highly reliant on the oil industry revenues. The blog CalWatchdog.com calculated that the oil and gas industry contributed $21.55 billion to the state’s public finances, an amounts over twice the salary compensation for state employees last year. If Brown cuts oil industry water, he will have to fire state workers.
Still, crude oil production in California has fallen for 27 of the last 30 years, from about 1.15 million to 566,000 barrels per day. California used to be self-sufficient in oil, but now imports 62.8 percent of the petroleum it uses. Last year, California spent about $32 billion to import 400 million oil barrels of oil.
Monsell stated, that “Governor Jerry Brown has to recognize that halting offshore fracking is critical to protecting marine animals and coastal communities from this toxic technique.” She added, “Haven’t we seen enough dead wildlife and polluted beaches?” she added, referring to a crude oil pipeline break near Santa Barbara in May that blackened the coast and spread goo to beaches as far as 100 miles away.
State oil and gas supervisor Steve Bohlen told the New York Times that the well permits are for activities on artificial offshore islands that were constructed decades ago. He said the regulations would first require pressure testing and monitoring.
Despite environmentalist warnings that fracking contaminates groundwater, releases air pollution and causes earthquakes, Breitbart News reported on June 9 that the Environmental Protection Agency found that fracking has not had a “widespread, systemic impact on drinking waste.”
The release was interpreted by analysts as the federal regulators using a claxon-horn to announce an “all-clear” for the next leg of the new American oil boom. Futures prices for natural gas plummeted by 16 percent within minutes of the release.