Feds to Assume Leasing for Fracking in California - NBC Bay Area

Feds to Assume Leasing for Fracking in California



    Feds to Assume Leasing for Fracking in California
    The controversial drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, requires injecting huge amounts of water, sand, and chemicals at high pressure thousands of feet beneath the earth's surface to extract reserves of natural gas.

    The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal lands in California after a new study found limited environmental impacts from fracking and other enhanced drilling techniques, the agency said Thursday.

    The move will end a halt that has stood since a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the federal agency failed to follow environmental law in allowing an oil extraction method known as fracking on public land in Monterey County.

    The study released Thursday was conducted for the BLM by the state-created California Council on Science and Technology. It concluded the current level of fracking and other so-called well-stimulation techniques by drillers to get more oil out of rock formations did not seem to be poisoning water supplies or increasing earthquake risks in the state.

    That is partly because fracking and other methods used in California differ from those in some other states, the researchers concluded.

    Are Regulators Ignoring California's New Fracking Law?

    [BAY] Are Regulators Ignoring California's New Fracking Law?
    As many as 77 different oil wells that the gas and oil industry reported were fracked in January and February had yet to show up on the website run by California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) by May 20, 2014. Stephen Stock reports in a video that aired on May 27, 2014.
    (Published Tuesday, May 27, 2014)

    Fracking involves extracting oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals. California drilling typically uses less water and a greater concentration of chemicals in fracking, and drilling is shallower, researchers said. California's different geology also limits the impacts of fracking, they said.

    Researcher Jane Long, who led the steering committee that oversaw the study, acknowledged in a phone call with reporters that researchers had drawn their conclusions while lacking some key information.

    The oil and gas industry, for example, is not required to disclose all the chemicals, including toxic ones, used in fracking, although a new state law that goes into effect next year mandates that disclosure.

    "The conclusions we reached are based on the data available,'' Long said. "We recognize the data is incomplete.''

    The Center for Biological Diversity, one of the environmental groups that sued the BLM over the Monterey County fracking, said it was premature for the government to resume selling oil and gas leases before it had harder data.

    "This report raises grave concerns about fracking pollution's threat to California's air and water, but it also highlights that government officials have never collected the data needed to determine the risks to our state,'' Kassie Siegel, director of the center's climate law institute, said in a statement.

    Reality Check: U.S. Top Oil Producer by 2015?

    [BAY] Reality Check: U.S. Top Oil Producer by 2015?
    In this edition of Reality Check, Sam Brock looks at the claim the United States will move past Saudi Arabia as the world's top crude oil producer by 2015.
    (Published Monday, Feb. 17, 2014)

    Researchers also cast doubt on projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on potential oil reserves in California's Monterey Shale, a geological formation that's drawn much interest from oil and gas companies. Early projections of massive amounts of oil in the shell were highly skewed, and more examination is needed before reaching any conclusion, the study said.

    Get the latest from NBC Bay Area anywhere, anytime
    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android