Frequently Asked Questions
What is fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing)?
Fracking is a process to release and extract oil or gas by blasting water, toxic chemicals, and sand at extreme pressure into deep underground rock.
Where is fracking happening in California?
Fracking has already taken place in several counties from the Sacramento Valley to Los Angeles County. Companies have targeted the Monterey Shale, a massive rock formation that stretches from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles County, as a prime place to frack for oil.
What’s wrong with fracking?
Fracking pollutes water by mixing millions of gallons of water with toxic chemicals. The process generates massive amounts of toxic wastewater that contains known and suspected carcinogens including benzene and toluene. Industry and independent studies show that about 5% of wells immediately fail after being fracked, enabling groundwater and soil contamination. A farmer in Kern County lost millions when his crops died as a result of contaminated groundwater from oil drilling. Fracking the Monterey Shale would use and abuse trillions of gallons of water at a time when we cannot afford to waste and contaminate more water.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fracking wells emit volatile organic compounds, which contribute to smog formation and air toxics including benzene and hexane, which can cause cancer and other serious health effects. Fracking also releases methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, undermining California’s existing goal to reduce GHG emissions. California’s Central Valley and Los Angeles basin already have some of the worst air quality pollution in the nation and fracking would make it worse.
Wastewater from fracking has been shown to cause earthquakes. The U.S. Geological Survey has documented a tripling of eathquakes greater than 3.0 in the Midwest due to wastewater wells from fracking. The Canadian government has documented similar findings in British Columbia. Much of the Monterey Shale lies directly above the San Andreas Fault, the major fault line that runs through the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
Why should fracking be banned? Why can’t we just regulate it?
Fracking is inherently dangerous and cannot be done safely. Destroying our natural resources and compromising our health for only benefits the greed of the oil companies. Finally, burning that oil will have a devastating effect on our climate crisis, which is causing more disasters year after year.
Proposed regulations such as disclosure or advanced notification do not make fracking any safer. The mere disclosure of chemicals does not prevent them from poisoning our air and water. Governor Brown should ban fracking and accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy.
Does fracking create energy independence?
California has long been an oil extraction state and much of California’s oil is exported. We can expect that more oil obtained through fracking would follow this trend as oil is sold on an international market. Fracking California for oil only serves to financially enrich the oil companies and leave Californians with the pollution.
Who is most impacted by fracking in California?
Air pollution in the Central Valley and ozone pollution in Los Angeles are both already the worst in the nation. Fracking will further overburden the African American and Latino communities who call these areas home and who are already far more likely to be hospitalized or die from asthma and other respiratory diseases than whites. Fracking pollution also poses a huge risk to water supplies in impoverished agricultural communities in the Central Valley where water pollution is already a serious problem.
And, the lack of public notice, meaningful opportunities for public participation and transparency in decisions about when, where and how fracking occurs in our state violate state and federal civil rights mandates and environmental justice policies.