Fracking Report Clears Way for California Oil and Gas Production

Published October 23, 2014

Fracking Report Clears Way for California Oil and Gas Production

By Bonner R. Cohen

A federal Bureau of Land Management report found there is little scientific evidence hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and related technologies harm the environment. The report’s release is expected to lead to a resumption of oil and gas leasing next year by drilling companies on vast swaths of hydrocarbon-rich federal land in California’s San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast.

California-Specific Conditions

Conducted by the nonpartisan California Council on Science and Technology, the report, released Aug. 28, is based on research carried out by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Pacific Institutes. In accordance with a BLM timetable, scientists were given seven months to complete a draft of the report, even though they had requested more time to compile data. Jane Long, the scientist who directed the study, acknowledged there are still “data gaps” regarding the California-specific conditions prevailing around drilling sites.

Jim Kenna, BLM’s California state director, said the BLM will requiredmore environmental studies once fracking gets underway in 2015. In addition, BLM will insist fracking operation be subjected to state regulations which are stricter than federal standards.

Environmental groups lost no time in criticizing the report. The Los Angeles Times quoted Jackie Pomeroy of the anti-fracking group CAFracFacts as saying, “They can’t prove any water contamination, but there is no data looking at water contamination—that doesn’t seem to me to a very rigorous examination of the evidence on hand.”

In constrast, Marita Noon, executive director of the New Mexico-based organization Energy Makes America Great, denounced the decision’s detractors, saying “The more it is studied, the more it proves what many in the industry have been saying throughout the past six decades of its use: Hydraulic fracturing is safe. All the scare tactics are not so much about fracking, but are about stopping all oil and gas development.”     

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C. His email address is [email protected]

Internet Info CCST, “Well Stimulation in California,” August 28, 2014: http://heartland.org/policy-documents/well-stimulation-california