To some, it’s a rude word. But “fracking” is the oil industry’s term short for “hydraulic fracturing,” a method of collecting oil and natural gas by injecting high-pressure chemicals into the ground.
The Federal Bureau of Land Management recently leased 18,000 acres in Monterey for just this purpose amid fears from opponents of the effects of fracking in and around the earthquake-prone Bay Area.
Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown proposed regulations to fracking, requiring companies to disclose the state of their plans 10 days prior to drilling, and then publish the plans online including a list of the chemicals used.
As with anything, there are potential positives and negatives to both the drilling itself and to the new legislation.
Opponents of fracking say chemicals being rocketed into our water tables could be harmful, potentially including “carcinogens and other toxic chemicals.” According to the Oakland Tribune, a documentary on the subject showed tap water being lit on fire after being polluted by nearby fracking.
Fracking, though, has driven natural gas prices down, which has increased jobs and decreased the amount utilities rely on coal.
Food & Water Watch, a group opposed to this type of drilling, says that fracking in California been unregulated for years, and we cannot be sure that these practices are at all safe without proper “regulatory oversight.”
So then, environmental groups should be happy with these new proposed regulations, right? Not exactly.
Food & Water Watch recently helped stage a protest at Crissy Field because they believe that these regulations would not do enough. Part of the demonstration was in protest of these regulations coming down on the side of big oil companies.
Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity echoed the same sentiment, telling the Trib:
“These draft regulations would keep California’s fracking shrouded in secrecy and do little to contain the many threats posed by fracking.”
These rules as suggested were part of a “discussion draft,” and will remain under revision during public hearings over the next year.
Editor’s note: The position and actions of nonprofit group Food & Water Watch were erroneously attributed to Save the Bay, a separate nonprofit, in the original version of this story. SFBay regrets the error.