Report may force CA media to admit Obama backs fracking safety

Report may force CA media to admit Obama backs fracking safety

pravda_piatok_sabataAs Cal Watchdog has repeatedly noted over the past two years, the California print media — with the exception of the U-T San Diego editorial page (my edits) and a San Francisco Chronicle reporter — never note the Obama administration’s support of fracking in its coverage of the energy-extraction technique. This is of crucial importance because the endorsement of the greenest administration in history should be part of the Golden State’s fracking debate.

The worst two examples of this conscious decision to leave out perhaps the strongest argument that pro-fracking forces can offer were in the Sacramento Bee and the L.A. Times.

In 2013, the Bee’s Pulizer-winning environmental reporter, Tom Knudson, wrote a voluminous, harshly critical look at fracking and California. He never mentioned that the Obama administration believes it to be just like another heavy industry that can be made safe enough with proper regulation.

Also in 2013, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell held a news conference announcing rules for fracking on federal land. The New York Times noted that Jewell’s remarks included pointed criticism of those who depicted fracking as unsafe. The Los Angeles Times covered the same press conference. Rather incredibly, it ignored Jewell’s remarks and instead quoted an oil industry figure as saying fracking was safe.

Cabinet member hits fracking ‘misinformation’

Now Jewell may have made it close to impossible for the California media to continue ignoring the Obama administration’s view by weighing in with KQED on what she sees as the poor logic behind local fracking bans.

President Obama’s chief custodian of federal lands says local and regional bans on fracking are taking regulation of oil and gas recovery in the wrong direction.

“I would say that is the wrong way to go,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told KQED in an exclusive interview. “I think it’s going to be very difficult for industry to figure out what the rules are if different counties have different rules.”

In November, two California counties added themselves to a growing list of local bans on hydraulic fracturing. Voters approved measures in San Benito and Mendocino Counties by wide margins.

“There are a lot of fears out there in the general public and that manifests itself with local laws or regional laws,” Jewell said.

The recent move by New York to extend a statewide ban does not sit especially well with Jewell, who, as a former petroleum engineer, has hands-on experience with fracking.

“There is a lot of misinformation about fracking,” Jewell said. “I think that localized efforts or statewide efforts in many cases don’t understand the science behind it and I think there needs to be more science.”

Will the Bee, the Times and other California newspapers ignore this latest affirmation of the Obama administration’s view that fracking is not the devil?

I don’t see how they can — even though it will remind people how long they’ve covered up the views of Jewell, Obama and the administration in general.


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  1. Sue
    Sue 4 January, 2015, 18:20

    The problem is that there’s so much misinformation by all sides that it is hard to know who to believe anymore. The people we hire to oversee health and safety now are so often bought out by special interests. Too much cronyism going on and if this is unsafe the consequence could be a long lasting detrimental impact to many of our communities.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ted
    Ted "Patriot" Steele 5 January, 2015, 06:54


    Fracking is safe.

    Injecting 600 chemicals at high pressure below the water line—- what could possibly go wrong?

    Reply this comment
  3. Kenneth Gibson
    Kenneth Gibson 5 January, 2015, 23:34

    Secretary Jewell is disingenuous when she suggests the oil and gas industry is unable to follow local rules. Homebuilders must do it, shoppers parking in metered spaces must do it. If drillers can’t follow local rules they should not drill.
    Secretary Jewell and Governor Brown seem to agree that since we don’t know the science we should assume that toxins can be injected through water bearing strata without any risk. Who is motivated to develop the science? The data that has been collected based on citizen complaints of environmental damage associated with specific fracked wells or fields of fracked wells might be a good place to study some of the science. Let the oil companies fund real academic research, subject to tax funded peer review to quantify the risks and develop mitigation strategies. If that makes oil from newly fracked fields too expensive lets buy OPEC oil. If OPEC il is too expensive lets develop our solar and wind energy resources, electrify railroads and transit and build more electric vehicles in the U.S. That is job creation.

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  4. Sue
    Sue 7 January, 2015, 19:32

    In North Dakota they are not allowed to dump the waste from fracking so they are dumping it in Montana, next to property owned by parents of a friend of mine. The waste is radioactive. They have been threatened by the truck drivers dumping this waste, their farm has been contaminated and their family dog has died. They can’t get anyone to report the story. Our government is no longer looking out for public safety. SMUD is about to blast a 10 by 10 foot tunnel in a mountain behind Camino as a “test” drill which will leach into the American River. Probably no problem with that either.

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  5. Jerry
    Jerry 11 January, 2015, 18:13

    There are a lot of issues here that are all collapsed into each other complicating and confusing the subject with no real solutions as is always the case when react to a situation rather than confront it squarely, get the missing data they need to fill in the holes that are occupied with fear and see if there is a situation and if so what it is exactly and confront that to come up with some realistic solutions rather than just splattering fear mongering and anger all over the communication. A lot of this reaction is because of a lack of real data about how oil wells are drilled, at least in California.
    Secretary Jewell, as a petroleum engineer, could issue information about how oil wells are drilled, what precautions are in affect and have been for many years to protect water quality, etc.
    As wells are drilled, the casing is cemented in and sealed from any water tables that may be encountered on the way down. The geological engineers have equipment that can detect water and oil at depths into 7,000 feet down and do this from the service. The precess is called Seismic Testing. So they know
    where the water ids going to be and where the oil is they are drilling for.
    When they reach a water table, they are required to cement in the casing so that the water can’t get into their oil and so that oil can’t get into the water table. So between the water and the oil is a steel pipe and outside of that pipe is concrete that seals the pipe from the water table. Then when the well the oil is reached, it is well below the water table and because of the concrete on the outside of the metal pipe, the oil cannot get up to the water table when the oil is reached in the oil zone under ground.
    On top of that, when the oil is pumped out of the well by the pump installed at the bottom of the well, the oil travels from the pump up thru a separate tube inside the metal pipe well casing and out the top and into a holding tank.
    There is always water in the oil being pumped out of a well but it is never potable water; not drinkable. It is separated out of the oil in the tank and usually returned to the oil zone it came form or another oil zone by pumping it back down with a well that is set up to do that rather than pump oil.
    There are also stations that can separate the oil from the water in the oil and then purify it further so that it can be used for agriculture.
    I hope this helps fill in the cracks in understanding what is going on when a well is drilled.
    So fracking is being done in the oil zone area area, not in the water table area and the water table is sealed off from the oil zone area underground by
    steel well casing,sealed by concrete and tubing within the steel well casing
    that actually carries the oil up to the surface from the pump down below.
    If the oil zone is so close to the water table that the fracking may bust into the water table, then that fracking needs to be prevented, but the geologists should be able to tell how close together that are before the well is drilled.
    Regarding radio active well water coming up during the drilling operation, this isn’t from a water table below, It is from the drill bit going into area
    of Uranium that is radio active and that well should be stopped before that
    contaminated material spreads into a water table and to reduce health hazards at the drill site.
    During the drilling operation liquid mud is forced down into the well to cool the drill bit and flush out the drilling residue that is cut out by the drill bit as it goes around and around. Any radioactivity can and should be detected at the surface easily if and when it occurs with a simple Geiger counter. Then it should be contained in barrels and store in a hazardous waste area, not dumped on someone else’s farm. There are so many EPA rules about these subjects that I would be amazed if a drilling company was dumping radio active water and drill mud on someone’s private property and if so, it is lawsuit city big time. Wells bring up radio active material as they dig need to be shut down. It any oil rush like we have, there are bound to be cowboys drunk on getting rich. The just need to be made to follow the rules
    and make it real tough for them if they don’t.
    Figuratively speaking, putting a couple heads on a pike and publishing the heck out of it would do the trick.

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  6. Jerry
    Jerry 11 January, 2015, 18:22

    I believe the EPA is the organization to contact for any contamination problems
    from oil wells being driven, but has to be areal problem not just a fear that there may be a problem. There are a lot of EPA regulations regarding the drilling of oil wells and disposing of water and drilling mud.

    Reply this comment

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