Sustainability of Agriculture Depends on Fracking Regulations

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Sustainability of Agriculture Depends on Fracking Regulations
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California is the 4th largest oil and gas producing state; according to the Western States Petroleum Association, California received a combined $5.8 billion in fuel excise, corporate, and personal income taxes in 2009. The state is also home to the largest oil shale play in the nation, the Monterey Shale – containing 15 billion barrels of oil – which could be accessed through the process of hydraulic fracturing.

Yet the practice is far from flawless. In addition to fears of drinking water contamination, methane emissions and even claims of earthquakes caused by fracking, there is also the concern of wastewater. As fracking operations may pollute groundwater and use up agricultural water resources, the notoriously controversial technique has the potential to negatively impact agriculture.

In a 1999 incident unrelated to fracking, oil industry wastewater – contaminated with chemicals such as chloride and boron – seeped into ground wells, destroying one central California farmer’s crops. Fearing similar results, many members of California’s food and wine industry see fracking as a threat to the state’s agricultural health.

With concerns across the state over the practice, Senate Bill 4, introduced by Senator Fran Pavley, sought to provide a statutory framework for the comprehensive regulation of fracking in California by requiring that fracking regulations be promulgated by January 1, 2015. A fracking permit system with specified pre-fracking disclosure of the estimated amount of water and chemicals used be established.

“I represent and agricultural community in the Central Valley; farming, agriculture, and food production is the backbone of our economy and water is the life of that. The extent to which we protect our water and natural resources is very important,” said Assemblymember Adam Gray, co-author of SB 4. “At the same time, I represent a community that has high unemployment, and if there is a way to go about oil extraction and fracking in a responsible manner that can provide economic growth and opportunities, folks want to put a structure in place that can do that.”

The bill underwent major changes in the last week of this year’s legislative session after intense lobbying from the oil and gas industry; it will now require state regulators to approve all fracking permit requests in California for the next two years — as long as oil and gas companies disclose to state officials what chemicals they’re using during hydraulic fracturing. Despite opposition from the environmental community, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 4 into law last month.

According to Senator Pavley, the law is a step in the right direction: “[There are] people from inland agricultural communities, people concerned about unemployment and support hydraulic fracturing, and people concerned that we should be doing more. It’s a balancing act, but the good news is at the end of the day, we’ll have more transparency and disclosure.”

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  1. TheYarnieOne @Leo Bankowski  Just curious --  what happened to the waste from the water cleaning process -- the stuff that was processed out of the water to make it so clean?
  2. TheYarnieOne The balance between the environment and the jobs. . .  when the fracking destroys the environment, nobody will worry about jobs.  Please don't think I'm insensitive to the struggling and unemployed folks.   But, rather than create jobs in fracking, how about creating jobs in alternative energies?  That would be a win-win.
  3. Leo Bankowski My grand father had a mountain house when i was a kid, Went there all the time to hunt, Fish the stream and farm the land with him and his friends....The thing I thought was the COOLEST thing ever (back then) was my grandfather lighting the stream water on fire....This was early to late 70's, the gas infused in the water naturally from gas escaping thousands of feet below and made the water flammable when in a bucket (The gasses being released that is).....Now they use that same trick to fool the weak minded into thinking Fracking is causing that.
  4. Leo Bankowski Mathew crockett, I worked for an environmental company in Camden,NJ, What happens to the water is it gets pumped into a holding tank, A company like ours picks it up in a tanker truck, Puts it through a reverse osmosis machine and other chemical treatments (Same as your local water company) and it turns into a cleaner than river water product that is then, Introduced to water ways as "Cleaner" water helping to increase the quality of our rivers.
  5. Jerry Haslem And Troy you will never find people that love or use the outdoors more than oilfield workers. We LOVE the. Enviroment! Just spent the week camping and killed three elk! Good chow!
  6. Jerry Haslem Troy Riccardi I agree with you that we cut off ALL subsidies to petrochemical, to so called renewable and any other source of energy. Let them stand or fail on their own.
  7. Gail Lessard Yeah, let's not manufacture fear. If there are proven and verifiable dangers, let's hear them. I say we do this!
  8. Kathleen Findlay People have been on tv showing that their water from their home faucets burns. You say they are imagining that?
  9. Sharon Solesbee http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/07/1229636/-NOAA-Investigation-Finds-Massive-Methane-Emissions-from-Utah-Fracking-6-to-12-Lost-to-Atmosphere
  10. Matthew Crockett The one question the most pro-fracking people ignore is just what happens to the water used after it creates your fractures? Hydrocarbons are poisonous and you can't combine them with water without having a need for containment and cleanup.
140 comments
TheYarnieOne
TheYarnieOne

The balance between the environment and the jobs. . .  when the fracking destroys the environment, nobody will worry about jobs.  Please don't think I'm insensitive to the struggling and unemployed folks.   But, rather than create jobs in fracking, how about creating jobs in alternative energies?  That would be a win-win.

Leo Bankowski
Leo Bankowski

My grand father had a mountain house when i was a kid, Went there all the time to hunt, Fish the stream and farm the land with him and his friends....The thing I thought was the COOLEST thing ever (back then) was my grandfather lighting the stream water on fire....This was early to late 70's, the gas infused in the water naturally from gas escaping thousands of feet below and made the water flammable when in a bucket (The gasses being released that is).....Now they use that same trick to fool the weak minded into thinking Fracking is causing that.

Leo Bankowski
Leo Bankowski

Mathew crockett, I worked for an environmental company in Camden,NJ, What happens to the water is it gets pumped into a holding tank, A company like ours picks it up in a tanker truck, Puts it through a reverse osmosis machine and other chemical treatments (Same as your local water company) and it turns into a cleaner than river water product that is then, Introduced to water ways as "Cleaner" water helping to increase the quality of our rivers.

Jerry Haslem
Jerry Haslem

And Troy you will never find people that love or use the outdoors more than oilfield workers. We LOVE the. Enviroment! Just spent the week camping and killed three elk! Good chow!

Jerry Haslem
Jerry Haslem

Troy Riccardi I agree with you that we cut off ALL subsidies to petrochemical, to so called renewable and any other source of energy. Let them stand or fail on their own.

Gail Lessard
Gail Lessard

Yeah, let's not manufacture fear. If there are proven and verifiable dangers, let's hear them. I say we do this!

Kathleen Findlay
Kathleen Findlay

People have been on tv showing that their water from their home faucets burns. You say they are imagining that?

Matthew Crockett
Matthew Crockett

The one question the most pro-fracking people ignore is just what happens to the water used after it creates your fractures? Hydrocarbons are poisonous and you can't combine them with water without having a need for containment and cleanup.

Matthew Crockett
Matthew Crockett

The earthquake concern may be wrong but the other ones sound valid enough. Even with coal there has long been the concern about toxic ash and the need to contain it so it doesn't end up mixed with the local water.

Rick Covert
Rick Covert

There are alot of presumptions over the presumed safety of these wells. Ground water contamination won't occur IF the material used in the well casing isn't substandard and IF it can last over the thousands of years the fracking fluid will have to remain below the ground water level. In the area I worked where fracking was going on in Lovelady, TX 28 years ago, I NEVER drank the tap water when I lived onsite while the fracking project went on and afterwords. Instead I drove all those miles up to Crockett to buy 5 gal. jugs of water. As for fracking fluid not being dangerous I'll take the advice of an old roustabout there. He warned me to never go inside those fracking tanks as those who don't come out alive.

Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson

Troy, renewable energy get huge subsidies from the government as well. California, the state will give you 75% off solar panels if your a resident. Same in New Jersey.

Robert Brecht
Robert Brecht

I am not knowledgeable enough to know how safe this is, or whether it can help with the energy supplies in the future. I appreciate the many thoughtful comments by people on both sides of the issue. I do urge posters to avoid disrespectful terms and labels that are designed to put down those they don't agree with. Please keep the tone of comments respectful and help us all learn more about this complex subject. Thanks!

Troy Ricciardi
Troy Ricciardi

Fracking is unnecessary. Oil is not cheaper than sustainable energy. The only reason it SEEMS cheaper is because of government subsidies. Geothermal, tidal, methane digestion, wind, and solar require a small fraction of oil subsidy money to develop sustainable, cheap infrastructure. Hydrocarbon fuel is the enemy. It's us vs the corporations, so quit fighting each other. Calling someone a treehugger because he actually cares and questions the corporate "science" is pure lapdog ignorance. Break free from oil dependency. That is where freedom begins.

Jerry Haslem
Jerry Haslem

Ill invite all of you to visit Vernal Ut. We have been a central hub for the oil and gas industry for sixty years. We still have the best drinking water that exists anywhere. And fracing has been occurring for years. None of grandpas wells have been harmed at all. The whole argument is a myth.

Terry Brewer
Terry Brewer

So, my question is for ^^ you, Randy Stuhlberg - what source(s) do you base your comment on?

Terry Brewer
Terry Brewer

I have not personally had the chance to investigate fracking for myself, so I cannot say whether or not it's a good thing, but my concern would be any possible long-term damage to the planet. I understand that millions of lives depend on things such as coal and oil - but I also understand that those resources are finite - which, from a standpoint of pure logic (leave your emotions out of this for a moment), means that we need to start focusing more of our brain power on renewable sources of energy regardless of what fracking may or may not do as far as impacting the planet. This is an issue that needs to be better understood for all of us.

Brian Baum
Brian Baum

If it does nothing to the water why is that in every Gas well Contract ? Why are the MSDS for all chemicals injected into the ground available ?

Fred Conquest
Fred Conquest

In the old day you fracked with just water ... today you frack with a chemical cocktail of water and a host of toxic chemicals ... The waste water clean up is a massive problem. If you factor in the water clean up costs, fracking in many places is a non-starter, but the industry externalizes the costs by not dealing with them. You can however use gelled propane to frack and no have much to worry about, downhole or with wastewater.

Laurie Sargent Parry
Laurie Sargent Parry

... and they are re-directing the ground water, making the droughts worse

Kim Moore
Kim Moore

We should stop subsidies to all companies period, let the one that PEOPLE invest into and purchase the most of succeed. Stop letting government tell us what's best,

Jerry Haslem
Jerry Haslem

Chuck Germany invested heavily into "renewable" energy and the continuos blackouts has made them realize what a load of bs they bought into. Lets invest in Hydroelectric, nuclear, and Natural Gas. JUST in Utah, we have a 400 year supply of known deposits that would keep America running.

Tony Deats
Tony Deats

There are earthquakes in Texas now.

Jeffrey Walsh
Jeffrey Walsh

Don't know why this article doesn't say these things as a matter of fact..heres the fact we have allowed oil and gas companys to start a process that's going to kill and destroy us faster than the tabacoo industry ever could..because our politicians are being bribed

Bonnie Grooms
Bonnie Grooms

My dad was a driller they used fracking 50 years ago.Like the pipe line follow the money. Warren Buffet owens the rail lines oil tankers every where in ND.

Tom Knight
Tom Knight

We never seem able to manage the environmental chaos. 'Greater Good' standard is not inclusive.

Chuck Sweeney
Chuck Sweeney

I think if you are ok with fracking you care more about money than the planet you live on. We need to invest in solar wind and hydro electric non- polluting energy sources. Fossil fuels won't last forever and neither will our planet if we keep poisoning it.

Randy Stuhlberg
Randy Stuhlberg

Elise, you are also talking about coal country and what do you have when you have coal underground methane gas problem solved, get a life and keep away from those trees, they'll lead you astray.

Randy Stuhlberg
Randy Stuhlberg

Christopher, everything you sited has been shown for what it is a bunch of bunk, go back to hugging your trees,

John Thompson
John Thompson

the wells are cased ..thats a crock of crap about groundwater intrusion ....

Christopher Cohn
Christopher Cohn

" As far back as 1984, the USEPA reported on a clear case in which hydraulic fracturing fluids and natural gas from production operations contaminated a groundwater well in West Virginia, “rendering it unusable.” The USEPA issued a draft report in 2011 on groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, that showed extensive presence of fracking chemicals (natural and synthetic) in shallow and deep groundwater systems. Some of this contamination may have resulted from faulty wells drilled through groundwater aquifers; some of it may have resulted from surface seepage of fracking waste fluids escaping from badly designed and managed wastewater pits. The US Geological Survey Report issued its own independent assessment of the Pavillion, Wyoming groundwater testing that also showed high concentrations of several chemicals used in fracking. A Canadian groundwater contamination report described a “hydraulic fracturing incident” in 2011 in which errors in well drilling and management led to the release of fracking chemicals into groundwater including isopropanolamine, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, petroleum hydrocarbons, and more. A Duke University peer-reviewed study showed that fracked groundwater systems pose risks to other groundwater systems that were thought to be, but were not, hydraulically separate. This study clearly shows the risks in some groundwater geologies of cross contamination. Even more compelling, another peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documented “systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shalegas extraction.” The latest peer-reviewed study, released this week, also shows strong evidence that increased concentrations of methane and other hydrocarbons in drinking water wells are directly correlated with proximity to gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania." http://scienceblogs.com/significantfigures/index.php/2013/06/27/the-growing-evidence-of-the-threat-of-fracking-to-the-nations-groundwater/

Edward A. Boles
Edward A. Boles

It has been proven fracking does not contaminate ground water. Give it up and lets get on with becoming energy independent.

Neal De Gaston
Neal De Gaston

Agriiculture is sustainable because the farmer can use machinery, machnery running on fossil fuels! In much of USA rain is the water supply that in the past the farmers have been accused of polluting after it hits the ground.

Ron Bogan
Ron Bogan

It is well worth the minimal risk. What is the cost/risk of dependence on Islamic oil?

Gary Knopp
Gary Knopp

Fracking is an innovative process but needs to be regulated on a consistent basis. Fears are overblown.

Louie Goitz
Louie Goitz

why wont the companies divulge the chemical composition of the chemicals they use? if being concerned about our food source and our ground water makes me an "environmental freak" . so be it.

Gary McCutchen
Gary McCutchen

I'm not sure how anyone is bankrupted or starved by NOT potentially doing long-term damage to our environment. I'm suggesting that there are some things that we cannot afford to risk. If we wait until every scientist or politician on the planet is 100% positive that any activity is damaging the environment, I think we'll all die hungry and bankrupt.

Artie Alfreds
Artie Alfreds

14 likes of Jerry's nonsense??!!. Human beings aren't very smart.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

As I understand, fracking didn't become common until it was exempted from clean water regulations (among others?). A mistake that should be rectified.

Bruce Clark
Bruce Clark

If you want oil, then you have to accept fracking as a reality. Fracking is a secondary recovery method to retrieve oil in the ground after the natural pressure has been lost due to pumping. Fracturing the oil bearing formations within the earth creates fissures, or pathways for the oil to flow to the well. These fissures are packed with sand during the fracturing process. Without fracking, most oil would become inaccessible.

Troy Ricciardi
Troy Ricciardi

End hydrocarbon dependence. Stop oil subsidies. Redirect war money to sustainable energy infrastructure.

TheYarnieOne
TheYarnieOne

@Leo Bankowski 

Just curious --  what happened to the waste from the water cleaning process -- the stuff that was processed out of the water to make it so clean?