Voters affirm CA fracking

Voters affirm CA fracking

Monterey ShaleAfter a lot of spending and acrimony, little has changed from California’s high-profile ballot measures to ban hydraulic fracturing, which injects a mix of substances into shale rock to free up oil for extraction.

In two counties with little to no oil drilling — San Benito and Mendocino — anti-fracking measures prevailed. San Benito’s Measure J passed with almost 57 percent of the vote. Mendocino’s Measure S prevailed with 67 percent voting in favor.

In Santa Barbara county, however, where drilling has been well established for over a century, fracking was protected. There, Measure P was defeated by 63 to 37 percent.

Santa Barbara, host to the oil industry since the late 19th century, had the most at stake. In 1969, the county suffered a dramatic offshore oil well disaster that triggered environmental legislation and galvanized the environmentalist movement. Although oil production held on, the industry had to invest substantial sums to fend off the fracking ban.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Chevron (headquartered in San Ramon) ponied up $2.6 million to sink the three measures, with Aera Energy adding $2.1 million and Occidental Petroleum another $2 million.

Supporters of the ban raised only a fraction of that.

Political geography

Geography dictated the focus of the fracking debate. The three counties lie on and around the Monterey Shale formation, which winds and twists its way through much of California. The Chronicle reported that “the federal government this year slashed its estimate of the amount of oil that can be squeezed from the shale using current technology,” although “drillers continue probing the formation, saying it could one day yield an economic bonanza for the state.”

As David Quast, California director of the pro-fracking organization Energy in Depth, indicated to Platts, “The U.S. Geological Survey in 1995 estimated that the Bakken Shale in North Dakota contained just 151 million barrels of recoverable oil, only to significantly boost that projection in 2008 to 3-4 billion barrels, and then again doubling it last year.”

Yet, as Platts reported, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced in May that the Monterey Shale formation was very unlikely to yield a bonanza. Its estimate of “technically recoverable resources” plunged by 96 percent, “from 13.7 billion barrels in a 2012 study to 600 million barrels in a study” released in June.

California at a crossroads

With the split decision by voters in Santa Barbara, San Benito and Mendocino, the legal landscape surrounding fracking has become even more fractured. In Sacramento, as The Huffington Post reported, the state Senate “narrowly voted against a statewide fracking moratorium earlier this year,” while “Santa Cruz County and the city of Los Angeles already have similar bans in place.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown rankled environmentalists last year by supporting legislation that “would allow fracking to continue while lawmakers implemented a specific set of regulations and experts studied its potentially hazardous effects.”

In a further twist, California’s weather has clashed with changing consumer tastes to add a layer of complexity to the fracking debate. Since fracking requires the use of substantial amounts of water, the Golden State’s current drought has intensified the trade-offs associated with its use.

But energy exploration and development have not turned out to be the only culprit in the competition for scarce resources. The burgeoning market for almond milk has pushed the market for California-grown, water-intensive almonds so high the nuts now generate $4 billion a year in revenue, according to the Guardian. Monterey County, where water is also scarce, grows 44 percent of the world’s lettuce.

Kern County, meanwhile, has faced direct competition between Californians’ energy needs and dietary tastes. California’s oil-producing regions have been struggling to make do with current water supplies.

While half of America’s carrot crop and 40 percent of its pistachio crop come from Kern, the Guardian observed, the county’s oil fields are the sixth largest in the United States.

Water vs. oil: It’s an old California battle that will continue.


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  1. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 7 November, 2014, 15:56

    Voters deciding on fracking at the polls is about as silly as voters deciding whether neurosurgeons should perform a new method of robotic brain surgery. hah. Voters can’t even elect decent political representatives. How the heck are they going to make correct decisions on risky scientific operations that could produce disasterous results? There is more and more evidence that fracking in heavily populated urban areas could potentially contaminate our underground sources of drinking water. 8 states have reported that fracking did, in fact, do that. Oh, and for God sakes, don’t let the scientists who work on behalf of Big Oil make the decisions either. That would be like Dracula being in charge of security operations at the State blood banks! 😀

    Reply this comment
  2. Ebolan
    Ebolan 7 November, 2014, 16:26

    The only reason the politicians want fracking is so they can tax it.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 7 November, 2014, 17:50


    You’re alarmed at everything. Never happy.

    If Californians don’t want prosperity let it go.

    Eating sowbug croutons and possum jerky is not all that bad!

    Reply this comment
  4. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 7 November, 2014, 18:19

    I have to agree with LIC. The scientists should determine the safety or not of fracking and the causes and affects of climate change. (Every time I see the word, “fracking”, I shudder about the worker that was boiled alive, and the employer was “punished” with a fine of $300.)

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 7 November, 2014, 19:56

      seesaw, do you happen to know whether he was a union worker?

      Reply this comment
      • SeeSaw
        SeeSaw 7 November, 2014, 20:51

        No–it was a news item I saw on some CA news site last year. I’m not sure what state that the incident occurred, but I need to resurrect the article if I can. I plan to look for it.

        Reply this comment
      • SeeSaw
        SeeSaw 7 November, 2014, 21:09

        (I don’t know how to send links–I have never been able to add a tool bar to the blogs.) I found the item, entitled, “Chevron pays $350 fine after oil worker boiled to death. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

        The incident happened in Kern County on April 18,2012. A construction supervisor, yes union, was walking on the oil field and he stepped on a patch of ground that had been softened by steam in a fracking operation. He was boiled alive! CalOSHA determined that Chevron did not break any laws–it was fined $350 for failure to warn the workers that there were patches of ground that had become sink holes from the steaming operation.

        Reply this comment
        • LetitCollapse
          LetitCollapse 7 November, 2014, 22:38

          seesaw, did the article say whether the $350 fine was deposited into the union’s pension relief fund? Did they continue fracking where the union worker was boiled to death? Very few of us know in advance how the grim reaper will take us. But when my number comes up I sure hope it’s not being boiled in a fracking hole.

          Reply this comment
          • SeeSaw
            SeeSaw 8 November, 2014, 01:02

            I don’t know. I will have to go back and look at the article later. I would think that the fine would go into the coffers of CalOSHA, wouldn’t it?

          • SeeSaw
            SeeSaw 8 November, 2014, 01:42

            Correction on timing: The article was written April 18, 2012–the incident occurred in June, 2011. The Steelworkers Union complained that the State let Chevron off too easy. Chevron responded that the three men who went into the area together knew of the danger. The CalOSHA investigator issued orders that fracking was not to continue on that well until workers were properly trained. At the time of the article, nine months later, the well was still exploding and sending oil and other materials hundreds of feet high into the air. The source of the problem had not been found, nine-months after the incident. I don’t know if manpower was being used to help stop the spewing or not. There was no mention about where the fine went–(I would still be of the opinion that it would have gone to CalOSHA.)

          • LetitCollapse
            LetitCollapse 8 November, 2014, 06:06

            “I would think that the fine would go into the coffers of CalOSHA, wouldn’t it?”

            Well, you’d think that a gas tax would be used to repair potholes and fix our roads and bridges for auto travel as opposed to supplementing public pension funds and giving pay raises to cops and firemen too, wouldn’t you? Nothing makes sense anymore in this gamed society, seesaw. Just because A=B and B=C it doesn’t necessarily mean that C=A. We’re no better than Mexico. I used to laugh at the corruption in Mexico back in the day. I don’t laugh anymore. It’s found it’s way into our backyard.
            Oh, and btw….a Big Oil fine of $350 for a man losing his life is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard before. I got a bigger fine for a rolling stop once and that was over 4 decades ago! Just more evidence that big government and big business are in cahoots! 😉

  5. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 7 November, 2014, 19:28

    Politicians sell dreams and fracking assuages our subconcious fears concerning peak oil and the end of our way of life. Fracking, like the tar sands, is a very high cost stopgap that has a half-life measured in MONTHS, yet the toxicity it pumps into the ground (and the groundwater) will persist for geologic ages. Subconsciously we are TERRIFIED at the prospect of a return to the 17th century: no freeways, no cars, no malls, no TV, no glutinous toxic junk food, no 500 lb human land whales cruising the aisles at costco in their scooters. Hard physical human labor, sunup to sundown. No easy techno fixes, just entropy…

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 7 November, 2014, 20:07

      Bill, I understand that it takes massive amounts of water to make fracking work. That’s all we need during a severe drought. To shoot tons of good fresh water down into a hole in the earth with no real guarantee of a return. Heck, if we don’t get any rain this fall and winter we might need that water to survive. Here is it….Nov 7……and all we got so far is about .15 of an inch. And no rain in the forecast. I’m getting a little worried. There should be a moratorium on fracking until we’re out of this drought condition. But the greedy Big Oil only have dollar signs in their eyes. To hell with saving water, they say. Bring on the petrol dollars!!! 🙁

      Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 7 November, 2014, 20:58

      Oh, btw, Bill. At the gym I go to the management tells us to limit our showers to 3 minutes!!! HAH! While the Big Oil frackers shoot millions of gallons of fresh potable water down a damn rabbit hole!!!! HAH! If we don’t get some rain in California this winter a gallon of water will cost more than a gallon of gasoline! Then we can all wash our clothes in regular grade 87 octane! 😀

      Reply this comment
  6. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 8 November, 2014, 08:26

    Fracking is one form of enhanced recovery that does require large amounts of fresh water to open up the pore structure of the oil-bearing layers. Used in combination with horizontal drilling it can for a short while recover oil from places it was previously un-recoverable. Another form of enhanced recovery, which has been used extensively by the saudis and I think also in the LA basin, is sweeping, where sea water is pumped underneath the otherwise played out formation to bring to the surface a briny oil-water mix that is then separated. In the older saudi fields the oil:water ratio is now on the order of 10:90, e.g. mostly water.

    IMHO the present oil price decline will prove to be a very temporary reprieve from the reality of our situation. This price drop has been engineered to bitch slap Putin and try to show him who’s boss. Our elites have literally lost their minds in their fury and hatred of Putin, if you doubt this check out the video of Samantha Powers freaking out at the UN and physically attacking the russian representative. Snowden was the icing..

    Anyway, if you’re worried about climate change/global warming then rejoice! All the easy and somewhat easy oil is gone forever, and our grandchildren can look forward to a much more fulfilling, less horribly entropic life on the farm. I am not being sarcastic..

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 8 November, 2014, 14:46

      “IMHO the present oil price decline will prove to be a very temporary reprieve from the reality of our situation. This price drop has been engineered to bitch slap Putin and try to show him who’s boss.”

      Putin is 10x’s smarter than POTUS Obola, Bill. You can tell how intimidated Putin is. The other day he just sent a bunch of tanks and troops into Ukraine to help the Rebels defend their cities. Also, I read that Putin just struck a 2nd deal with China to build an oil and gas pipeline to supply the Chinese with the energy they need to build their economy. Putin is about 6 moves in front of Obola who couldn’t find his hind end with both hands and a spotlight. I agree with you. The Saudis have cooperated with Obola and drove the price of oil down to screw with Putin. But it won’t work in the long run. Putin just hit oil reserve motherload near Siberia that is a gold mine for Russia. And Putin gave Snowden asylum just to flip Obola the bone. Samantha Powers and Obola are like hand in glove. Both are proven inveterate liars. Powers lied through her teeth about Benghazi and got caught at it. She can’t even tell believeable lies!! She’s an amateur!!! HAH! 😀

      Reply this comment
      • T Mind of Ted Your God
        T Mind of Ted Your God 8 November, 2014, 18:55

        Poor Constipado–

        Still using racial disrespect towards the President of the United States because he is not clever enough to write his VOLUMINOUS and lightweight junior high commentary without it!

        Reply this comment
  7. vonborks
    vonborks 8 November, 2014, 10:40

    Researchers at the Colorado School of Mines claim they have developed a method to unlock hydrocarbons trapped in shale without using any water at all. They are seeking to perfect Cryogenic fracturing, which replaces water with searing cold liquid nitrogen (or carbon dioxide).

    Reply this comment
  8. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 8 November, 2014, 14:09

    Since I don’t have the scientific knowledge about fracking, I do consider it frightening, and mourn the loss of a human being, in exchange for the almighty dollar. I don’t know what the subject has to do with giving raises to police and fire though–people do need to get paid for doing their jobs. If the price of a full mexican-food meal today were still 65 cents instead of $16.50, raises would not be necessary.

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 8 November, 2014, 14:54

      “I do consider it frightening, and mourn the loss of a human being, in exchange for the almighty dollar.”

      Oh stop it, seesaw. Human life means nothing to our nation. We killed over 500,000 innocent iraqi men, women and children post the 2003 invasion based on WMD lies. Did you shed a tear over those innocent lives? Or since their skin is tinted brown don’t they count as human beings???

      “I don’t know what the subject has to do with giving raises to police and fire though–people do need to get paid for doing their jobs.”
      But some blue collar HS grad slob who got hired cuz his dad’s an insider sure doesn’t deserve to make as much as a family doctor and retire a millionaire several times over @ age 55.

      “If the price of a full mexican-food meal today were still 65 cents instead of $16.50, raises would not be necessary.”

      Where do you buy your mexican food. I can get a whole combo with drink for less than $5.00, including tax.

      Reply this comment
  9. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 8 November, 2014, 19:02

    Who are you to determine how I feel about innocent lives lost anywhere in the world! Skin color means nothing to me–you seem to have an issue about that yourself!

    There is nepotism and cronyism no matter where you go–I don’t know any firefighters or police officers in my City whose Dads were on those rosters. If they were, and are qualified I would have no objection.

    A complete mexican dinner for less than $5 with drink including tax is not possible. You can’t get the drink at a fast food outlet anywhere for less than $2.50. If, although I doubt it, you do get your complete meal with drink and tax for less than $5, that is still more than 65 cents–what we paid in the 60’s for a Taco Lita plate with taco, enchilada, beans, and rice. My point is–the cost of living has multiplied times over times–if people are to keep their heads above water, raises are necessary. Still however, I don’t know why your segue over to that subject has anything to do with the horrible, fracking fatality–which was the private sector anyway. As far as the government regulation of the business goes–it is a necessary evil.

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 9 November, 2014, 10:17

      “Still however, I don’t know why your segue over to that subject has anything to do with the horrible, fracking fatality–which was the private sector.”

      People die everyday doing their jobs, seesaw. Fisherman, construction workers, linemen, tree pruners, cab drivers, truckers, divorce attorneys, bill collectors, and on and on and on….If I threw a hissy fit everytime somebody died on job I’d be a basketcase. There are millions of union workers. One less is not going to make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. He chose to associate with frackers. That’s the risk he took. And he lost.

      Reply this comment
  10. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 9 November, 2014, 07:03

    Here’s an intelligent discussion of shale oil breakevens, from ZH, of course:

    When trying to understand real world cause and effect it is ALWAYS safe to assume conspiracy. ANYONE with a smidgen of experience in reality knows this. The question then revolves around ‘qui bono’, the ancient test for getting to the heart of any matter.

    Those who yammer about conspiracy theories and tin foil hats are either gulls or the elderly. Elderly folks seem to find its just too exhausting to try to keep up with everything, they just want to smell the flowers, and if Candy Crowley or Wolf Blitzer says ‘it is so’, well then why not, even if IT is completely absurd. Let the young folks sort it out…

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 9 November, 2014, 10:08

      Bill, ZH is one of the better websites. There is a ZH bias too, but overall it’s a great news website that provides facts and insights that are impossible to find at any other US media source.
      Both you and I know that the purpose of the manipulated oil price is to hurt Russia economically. We have entered a brand new cold war. Putin just flipped Obola the bone by sending tanks and troops into Eastern Ukraine to help the rebels ward off the nationalists. hah. And Putin has made oil/gas deals with China and is in the process of making more. It’s going to be a real cold winter in western europe, poland, etc…. some of those EU nations depend on Russia for 60% or more of their gas supply to stay warm. So Putin is in the catbird’s seat. And if we screwed with him…’s guaranteed that he screws with us. Putin didn’t fire the first shot here. The US wants to put NATO into Ukraine, Russia’s backyard. What would we do if Russia cooperated with Al-Queda and struck a deal with Mexico City to deploy Al-Queda forces along our southern border? Or if Russia started planting nuclear ballistic missiles in the hills of Tijuana? Do you think we would allow that to happen? Human beings rarely look at situations independently or without bias. Most everyone roots for the home team. Most deny the truth. And that’s the reason there are so many problems, domestically and internationally. Nobody accepts reality. They won’t break Russia. Putin is too smart. In the meantime, I love these lower gas prices. I fill up at every opportunity. But I can remember when a gallon of 87 octane sold for $0.25. So for me this is all noize. 😉

      Reply this comment
  11. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 9 November, 2014, 14:19

    Bill, I am elderly and I do a damn good job keeping up with your you and your ilk and all your hostility, which is evidently what it takes for you to enjoy life! I don’t watch Wolf Blitzer and Candy Crowley, but I suppose your remark has something to do with the fact they are both beyond 50. You will be there too, before you know it, and you and those that prefer to smell the flowers are all going to the same place in the end. It just depends on how you want to spend the time you have left.

    Reply this comment
    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 9 November, 2014, 20:42

      The ‘hostility’ is radiating out from you my friend. There is NOTHING hostile in the above-refenced post. NOTHING. Your fake hypersensitivity is pretty much par for the course among the trolls who think they bring ‘balance’ to CWD. And for your information, buddy, I too am well within the age range of AARP. Yes, ELDER=ELDERLY, you fool…

      Reply this comment
      • LetitCollapse
        LetitCollapse 9 November, 2014, 23:07

        Bill, don’t pay any attention to her. She takes everything personally and emotionalizes everything. But you are right. Wolf Blitzer reminds me of an old politically correct buffoon. And who the hell gave him the name “Wolf”? hah. He reminds me more of a Pekinese than a ‘Wolf’. hah. But Wolf can take his ‘situation room’ and shove it. I think everything he reports has to be cleared through propoganda central in DC before it’s broadcasted to the viewers.
        I happen to be an elderly citizen. And you’re right. Most of us are more concerned about regular bowel movements than we are about the state of our nation and the damage we’ve caused to the younger generations. It’s shameful that we were the same generation that had the initiative to put an end to that ridiculous Vietnam war. Now the crooked government is in cahoots with Wall Street and nobody gives a damn as we’re being destroyed economically. Well, this elderly citizen won’t give up. I’ll continue calling them crooks and fascists as I take my final breaths from my deathbed.
        Keep commenting, Bill. You do a fine job. And pay no heed to the liberal hand-wringers. 🙂

        Reply this comment
  12. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 November, 2014, 14:50

    Saw…he should be banned. He makes some really hurtful remarks that are in spirit of CWD.

    Where is the moderator?

    Reply this comment
  13. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 November, 2014, 14:51

    Not in spirit

    Reply this comment
  14. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 10 November, 2014, 07:49

    “I read. I laugh. I cry.”

    More of the same from the legends above.

    More jobs that don’t require a 4 year at a UC communist breeding ground is always a good thing for an economy.


    Reply this comment

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droughtenvironmentalismfrackingJames Poulos

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