July 1, 2016

Search Results for: fracking

Alameda County fracking ban moves forward — Come to 6/1 campaign meeting to strategize next steps

What a whirlwind Monday’s hearing was! In case you missed it, after years of immense pressure and delays from the oil industry, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 to approve the anti-fracking ordinance! The next step is a vote of the Transportation and Planning Committee (stay tuned for details). Then it will move on to a final vote of the full Board of Supervisors.

We are well on our way to banning fracking and protecting our groundwater, our children’s health, and the future of Alameda County. What’s next? Join us at a critical campaign meeting Wednesday, June 1st, to hammer out how we’re going to win!

The fracking ban as it stands also prohibits cyclic steam injection, acid fracturing, well stimulation, and nearly every other dirty and dangerous method of extreme oil extraction. But here’s the tricky part: the ordinance that the Planning Commission recommended includes one weakness, which is a loophole allowing some kinds of waterflooding, a water-intensive “cousin” of fracking.

Can we stand behind this ordinance as it moves to the Board of Supervisors? As Alameda County Against Fracking, we have to decide. And for that, we need you. Join us at a can’t-miss campaign meeting to discuss our future and what winning will look like:

WHAT: Alameda County Against Fracking: What’s next? Campaign meeting and supporter meet-up
WHERE: Food & Water Watch, 1814 Franklin St., 11th Floor, Oakland, CA (take BART to 19th St.)
WHEN: Wednesday, June 1st, 6-7:30 PM
RSVP: on Facebook, or email eteevan@fwwatch.org

We’ve come this far, thanks to your tireless work. Now it’s time to think hard about the future of Alameda County.

Ella Teevan, Food & Water Watch

Alameda fracking ban gets a special hearing on May 23rd

The Alameda County Planning Commission has scheduled a special meeting to review an ordinance banning fracking and other extreme oil-recovery methods in Alameda County. Join us at the special hearing and vote on Monday, May 23rd, at 6 pm in Hayward. Wear blue! More details below. RSVP here.

IMG_9511With close to 80 supporters at the hearing on May 2nd — many directly addressing the members of the Planning Commission with heartfelt messages — Alameda County Against Fracking (ACAF) once again delivered the message that fracking and other extreme oil-recovery methods should be banned from the County. And the message was received. Three members of the Planning Commission voted in favor of the draft ordinance. But we needed a fourth vote, which was not forthcoming. So we appreciate and thank Commissioners Ratto, Rhodes, and Kastriotis for their votes. And we look forward to convincing Commissioner Goff to approve the ordinance at the May 23rd meeting.

The May 2nd meeting was essentially a continuance of the Planning Commission meeting on April 4th. ACAF was satisfied with the draft heading into the April 4th meeting: it was comprehensive, addressing both well stimulation and enhanced recovery. It was modeled in part on the San Benito county ordinance. Voter-approved by a substantial margin, San Benito’s ordinance is a model for community-sponsored protection against extreme oil recovery methods.

But a day before the April 4th meeting, the current sole oil producer in the county, E&B Natural Resources, proposed several revisions to the draft. The commissioners put off further consideration until the May 2nd meeting, giving both ACAF and the County planners time to review this 11th-hour input.

Heading into the May 2nd meeting, ACAF had reviewed three versions of the ordinance prepared by County planning staff. Version A was the original version from April; Version B dropped the ban on enhanced recovery methods, including waterflooding and steam injection; and Version C retained a ban on enhanced recovery methods but created an exception for waterflooding, albeit with a restriction to limit the water used to only produced water — no imported water from other sources.

ACAF and its supporters spoke strongly in favor of Version A. Ultimately, it was this draft, slightly modified to enable E&B to continue its current practices for disposing of produced water and maintaining its wells, that garnered the votes of three commissioners.

But this was not the last word. Knowing how important the issue is to County residents, the Planning Commission scheduled a special meeting for May 23, where this ordinance is to be the only item on the agenda. We are hopeful that one or both of the commissioners not at the May 2 meeting — Hal Gin and Jeffrey Moore — will be able to attend and vote for a strong ordinance.

Meeting details:

WHAT: Special Planning Commission hearing and vote on the Alameda County fracking ban
WHEN: Monday, May 23rd, 6 pm
WHERE: Alameda County Buildings, Public Hearing Room, 224 W. Winton Avenue, Hayward
RSVP HERE
Wear blue!

– Rebecca Franke

Alameda County fracking ban has a chance to move forward on April 4th

The need for tighter regulations was underlined by the discovery last year of a leak from an oil storage tank in Livermore at an E&B Natural Resources site. According to an NBC Investigative Unit report (http://tinyurl.com/gpswr23), E&B has experienced multiple spills at its sites in California.

The need for tighter regulations was underlined by the discovery last year of a leak from an oil storage tank in Livermore at an E&B Natural Resources site. According to an NBC Investigative Unit report (http://tinyurl.com/gpswr23), E&B has experienced multiple spills at its sites in California.

At last! Word is that the revised draft ordinance to ban fracking and other extreme methods of oil extraction in Alameda County will come before the Planning Commission on April 4th.

This ordinance is our chance to reinforce the message that fracking should be banned in California, county by county by necessity (Thank you, Governor Brown). San Benito led the way. We look for Alameda to follow. And the fight will continue, with a big effort that gets underway on March 19 to get enough signatures to place an anti-fracking measure on Monterey County’s November ballot.

The need for tighter regulations was underlined by the discovery last year of a leak from an oil storage tank in Livermore at an E&B Natural Resources site. E&B failed to promptly report the leak to government agencies or to the surface property owner whose land surrounds the site. Monitoring wells to detect any possible contamination to the groundwater have been drilled. The company has paid a nominal fine, without acknowledging that it committed any violation. According to an NBC Investigative Unit report, E&B has experienced multiple spills at its sites in California.

Given the hazards associated with the transport, storage, use, and disposal of fracking chemicals, should E&B, or any other oil producer, be entrusted with being mindful of the land, water, and air of the Tri-Valley? Say “no” at the Planning Commission meeting.

WhatYouCanDo

There are two immediate ways you can become involved:

First, voice your support for the ordinance by emailing the Board of Supervisors at CBS@acgov.org. You can send a letter via regular mail to:

1221 Oak Street, Suite 536
Oakland, CA 94612.

You can use the sample letter language below.

Second, turn out for the Planning Commission meeting on April 4th to let the Commissioners know of the broad support for making sure that fracking and other extreme recovery methods never blight the landscape of Alameda County. Their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors will be critical to passage of the ordinance.

What: Planning Commission meeting on anti-fracking ordinance
When: Monday, April 4,  6:00 PM
Location: Alameda County Buildings, Public Hearing Room, 224 W. Winton Avenue, Hayward

If you want to energize yourself before the April 4th meeting, join us for a screening of ‘Dear Governor Brown,’ a film that exposes the governor’s oily record, challenges the climate legacy he’s so desperate to create, and pressures him to stop fracking and other extreme oil-extraction methods. The screening will be hosted by the Center for Biological Diversity:

What: Showing of ‘Dear Governor Brown’
Date: Thursday, March 31
Time: Refreshments at 6 pm, film at 6:30 pm
Location: Center for Biological Diversity, 1212 Broadway, Suite 800, Oakland

Sample letter language:

I’m writing to urge you to approve the proposed ordinance to prohibit hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other extreme methods of oil recovery in Alameda County. While fracking isn’t currently utilized at existing wells in the East County, nothing prevents its introduction at any time. This ordinance has been crafted to promote the health and safety of County residents, especially those in the Tri-Valley, while respecting the rights of  existing oil operators.
Fracking is inherently a hazardous activity. Last year, the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) reviewed the literature and assessed the hazards associated with the use of chemicals to stimulate oil production. It uncovered a number of areas of concern, including:
  • There are few controls on the chemicals used in fracking or an understanding of their effect on the environment.
  • Chemicals  are used without any measurement or documentation of their toxicity on aquatic life and mammals.
  • The disposal of large amounts of wastewater from fracking causes an increase in seismic activity.
Alameda County has a rapidly expanding population — the fastest growing in the state. And the Tri-Valley has a thriving agricultural sector — worth more $46 million in 2014. Its residents should not be at the receiving end of unknown, unsafe chemicals. They should not be subject to the risks of increased earthquake activity.
The ordinance also protects against the potential contamination of groundwater by banning percolation pits from ALL oil operations in the County. These pits are the most common method of disposal of wastewater in the state, and have been found to have contaminated groundwater in the Central Valley.
The drought has reduced the allocation of water from the State Water Project to the Zone 7 Water Agency. This forces greater reliance on the Tri-Valley’s groundwater. Fracking, and the disposal of contaminated wastewater, would imperil this precious resource. Once groundwater is contaminated, it is difficult, if not impossible, to clean up.
For all of these reasons, please support adoption of this ordinance.
Thank you for your consideration.
Rebecca Franke

Draft Alameda County anti-fracking ordinance would protect prime agricultural resources

Photo by johnjoh on Flickr Creative Commons

Livermore winery. Photo by John Joh.

With the backing of the Sierra Club (through Alameda County Against Fracking) and support from several vineyards in the Livermore area, Alameda County staff presented a new draft ordinance designed to limit new oil and gas operations. While not as comprehensive as the earlier draft, which would have removed the possibility of any new and expanded oil production, the proposal is still tough. The draft specifically prohibits hydraulic fracturing and various forms of acid stimulation. It also bans enhanced recovery through such means as steam, water, and carbon dioxide injection.

The ordinance has passed through the Transportation and Planning Committee with the strong support of Supervisor Haggerty and been reviewed by the Agricultural Advisory Committee. As the language is finalized, ACAF is working on including additional restrictions pertaining to percolation ponds and setbacks from homes, schools and other facilities.

This measure is made all the more necessary with the publication in July of the second volume of An Independent Scientific Assessment of Well Stimulation in California. Commissioned by the state, the report’s findings include how little control there has been over the use of chemicals in fracking, some of them known to be toxic; how groundwater has been contaminated by chemically laced water in percolation pits; and how toxic contaminates are emitted into the air from both fracked and conventional wells.

Forestalling such harmful effects in Alameda County, which has a significant agricultural sector, is important. Both wine grape and vegetable production in the County increased in 2014. The gross value of fruit and nut crops amounted to over $16 million, with a multiplier effect of perhaps three times that amount. It is not just the farmer, vineyard owner, or rancher who benefits, it is the overall community that shares in a thriving agriculture. And, of course, it is the community that suffers when agriculture is hit by adverse conditions.

Weather, climate, and water are key variables in the amount and quality of crops produced. Wine grape harvests have been coming in earlier due to higher temperatures in the Livermore area, as well as across the state’s other wine growing regions. Yields have been lower. The amount of water available from the State Water Project for the Livermore region has been restricted significantly, creating a greater reliance on local groundwater supplies. Passing this ordinance minimizes the risk that agriculture will be competing with oil over scarce resources in the County; it gives growers the space to make the inevitable adaptations caused by predicted changes in climate. Within the larger context of climate change, passing this ordinance constitutes one more small action of many such actions needed to mitigate more erratic weather patterns and rising temperatures.

Want to join the effort to limit oil and gas extraction in Alameda County? Email Rebecca Franke at dontfrackcal@gmail.com.

By Rebecca Franke

Alameda County Board of Supervisors to consider a ban on fracking

thisoneThe fight to ban fracking in Alameda County is coming to a head. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of our local alliance, Alameda County Against Fracking, a county-wide fracking ban is on the agenda at the September 4th meeting of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. You can help make the fracking ban a reality by joining us at the meeting and writing a letter to the Supervisors showing your support for a frack-free Alameda County.

We need a big crowd to turn out and voice their support for this action. In a conversation last month, Supervisor Scott Haggerty—who is introducing the anti-fracking legislation—emphasized that the success of this ban relies on the Supervisors hearing directly from their constituents. He also said: “I will certainly hear from Chevron.”

Big Oil will fight us on this. So it’s more important than ever that our elected officials hear from YOU. Let’s make sure the Board of Supervisors stays accountable to the voters—not to the oil and gas industry.

WHAT: Alameda County Transportation and Planning Committee meeting
WHEN: Thursday, September 4, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: 1221 Oak Street, 5th floor, Oakland

Even if you can’t make it to the meeting, please take a few minutes to write a letter urging your local Supervisor to sign on to the fracking ban, and thanking Supervisor Haggerty for introducing the legislation.

Read more about the Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter’s anti-fracking efforts in “New alliance calls for Alameda County fracking ban.”

New alliance calls for Alameda County fracking ban

Anti-fracking protest.

Anti-fracking protest.

In the wake of the defeat of Senate Bill 1132 (the Fracking Moratorium Bill) and of Governor Jerry Brown’s continued support for the extreme oil extraction methods and acidization, fracking continues in California with minimal, weak regulation. Given the dearth of state-level leadership, communities are stepping up to stop fracking locally. In San Benito, Santa Barbara, Mendocino, and Butte Counties, activists are working on local ballot initiatives to ban fracking. Now, Alameda County has joined the fight.

On July 9, fifty fractivists gathered for a kick-off meeting of Alameda County Against Fracking (ACAF). Elizabeth Echols and Tony Thurmond, both running for State Assembly, took part in the launch event to show their support for a fracking ban. ACAF is actively signing on new partners; so far eleven groups have joined the campaign.

Alameda County is home to six producing oil wells, and while not currently being fracked, the Bay Chapter’s Don’t Frack CA Team, as a founding member of ACAF, is urging the County Board of Supervisors to pass legislation ensuring that the county stays frack-free. To date, a majority of Supervisors have expressed support for fracking-ban legislation in unincorporated Alameda County, but they have conveyed that they want to hear broad-based community support before moving forward.

Meet other fractivists, share your ideas, and learn what you can do to help ban fracking in Alameda County at the Don’t Frack CA Team’s next monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 6:30 pm at the Chapter office in Berkeley.  Also, look for us at the Chapter Picnic on Friday, August 1.

For more information, to join the Google Group announcing upcoming events and news articles of interest, or to volunteer, contact Aria Cahir, Chair of the Bay Chapter Don’t Frack CA Team, at dontfrackcal at gmail.com. If you are active in a group that would support a ban on fracking, please get in touch about bringing that group on board—we are aiming for one-hundred and fifty organizations to support the ban on fracking in Alameda County.

Help keep the Bay Area frack-free—attend the Kick-off meeting for Alameda County Against Fracking

Fractivists in Sacramento

Photo by Aria Cahir.

Local fractivists are needed to protect Alameda County against fracking!

As Governor Brown continues to allow fracking to spread across the state, communities are stepping up to stop fracking locally. Now Alameda County is joining the fight. The county is home to six oil wells, and while not currently targeted for fracking, the San Francisco Bay Chapter and Don’t Frack California are urging the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance to ensure that Alameda County stays frack-free. Help launch Alameda County Against Fracking; RSVP today for a kick-off meeting co-hosted by Food and Water Watch, 350 Bay Area, and Moveon.org.

  • What: Alameda County Against Fracking Kick-Off Meeting
  • When: Wednesday, July 9, 6:30 – 8 pm
  • Where: Food & Water Watch office, 1814 Franklin Street, Suite 1100, Oakland

The campaign needs local fractivists to help with educational outreach, coalition-building, and media engagement. We need all hands on deck to help grow the movement in Alameda County and across the state. Governor Brown has deep roots and connections in this county and we want him to know that his neighbors and community members don’t want fracking here—or anywhere in California.

RSVP for the kick-off event today!

Questions? Email Aria Cahir, chair of the Chapter’s Stop Fracking Team.

To learn more about fracking in California, read “Fracking moratorium blocked in Senate“.

Fracking moratorium blocked in Senate

Don't Frack California Oakland rally (last year).

Don’t Frack California Oakland rally (last year).

On May 29 the fracking moratorium bill, SB 1132 (Mitchell and Leno-see “SB 1132 would halt fracking in California“), failed on the California Senate floor. It had failed yesterday by a vote of 18 – 16, with several key senators abstaining. We had hoped to be able to pick up some of those abstaining senators today, but instead, we lost two votes. Sen. Jerry Hill did not vote and we have learned from another senator that Hill was involved in another legislative matter when the vote came up (it was a very weird and confusing day in the Senate) and totally missed it.

Also, Sen. Marty Block, from San Diego, abstained. I talked to Sen. Block after the vote, and he said that he didn’t vote for the bill this time (he had voted for it yesterday) because the bill didn’t have the votes to get out. He also said that “things change” and didn’t explain what he meant by that. Notably, the California Building Trades Council came out in opposition to the bill late yesterday with no warning to any of the environmental groups working on the bill. Sen. Block is very sensitive to labor issues.

So, ultimate vote: 16 yes votes, 16 no votes, with Sens. Ricardo Lara, Ben Hueso, amd Richard Roth abstaining, along with Block and Hill. The only Democrats voting no were senators Norma Torres (currently running for Congress), Ed Hernandez, Lou Correa (termed out this year) and Cathleen Galgiani. All the Republicans voted against the bill, and three Democratic senators are on suspension and so didn’t have the opportunity to vote (Ron Calderon, Rod Wright, and Leland Yee).

Now here’s the good news: we got this bill farther in the process than we ever predicted six months ago. When we began the effort to do a moratorium bill this year, in conjunction with a lot of environmental and environmental-justice allied groups, we didn’t even know if we’d find an author. But we knew we needed to help the environmental community recapture the fracking debate in the Capitol and prove that the environmental community could be united and work effectively to keep the pressure on to halt harmful and extreme oil-extraction methods in the state.

We have more than succeeded. Our coalition found a great pair of joint authors in Sens. Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno. Sen. Mitchell and her staff took the lead position and did an outstanding job shepherding the bill. Meanwhile, the environmental and environmental-justice communities bound together and helped craft a bill we could all support. Indeed, we were able to craft a bill that brought on support from organized labor, many businesses and business associations, various health and community groups, elected officials around the state, and so on.

The bill drew local, state and national attention. News outlets across the country ran stories mentioning it, and the Los Angeles Times ran two editorials supporting it. The bill certainly wasn’t the only thing that has increased public education about the hazards of fracking and well stimulation in California, but it helped.

It did, ultimately, allow the public interest–not the oil industry interest–to recapture the debate about fracking in the legislature.

Today, we had about 10 environmental lobbyists (three from the Club) and three labor lobbyists (thanks to SEIU and CWA), plus a labor strategist, in the Capitol working the bill. Around the state, we had a lot of staff organizers and volunteer organizers, including two Club organizers, helping get the word to get calls into key offices. Over the last many months, our volunteers and staff all around the state have sent out e-mail blasts, tweeted, posted action alerts on FaceBook, and organized rallies to make sure the legislature knew where the public stood on fracking.

Thank you to every one of you who has helped in some way to elevate the fracking issue at the local and state and national level. Now that the bill is done for this year, Sierra Club California’s work on fracking will focus on helping put a spotlight on the governor’s role and ability to place a moratorium on fracking, supporting local chapters’ engagement in local moratorium and ban initiatives, and increasing our public education and outreach work on fracking and other extreme extraction methods.

So fasten your seat belt and get ready for more fast and exciting rides as we work together to halt extreme oil extraction in California and whittle away at Big Oil’s influence.

Kathryn Phillips, director, Sierra Club California

Revised estimate on Monterey Shale oil potential supports call for fracking moratorium

stop-frackingThe Los Angeles Times reported on May 21 that the U.S. Energy Information Administration has dramatically downgraded the amount of oil it expects to be recoverable from the Monterey Shale formations in California.

The agency originally estimated the formations, which underlie areas including from Orange County to Fresno and to the coast, would produce 15.4 billion barrels of oil in 2011. Subsequently, the agency reduced its estimate to 13.7 billion barrels last year. Now the agency has further reduced the estimate to just 600 million barrels of recoverable oil. That’s equivalent to about a month’s worth of U.S. oil consumption.

Hopes of exploiting deep shale formations like the Monterey Shale formations have fed a nationwide increase in the use of extreme extraction methods, including fracking and acid stimulation, that have been linked to increases in water pollution, air pollution, land and soil degradation, earthquakes, and climate- disrupting pollution.

Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, stated, “This is the second time in less than a year that the federal government has adjusted its estimates for production from the Monterey Shale formations. This underscores how little anyone really knows and understands about the formations and the extreme extraction methods that the oil industry is currently using–intensely–in California to exploit that formation. It highlights that we need a time-out on these extreme methods, like fracking, to assess what’s really going on. We need a moratorium.

“The new estimates further support the idea that California needs to focus more on developing and advancing clean fuels and renewable energy. Relying on oil leads to an economic dead-end.

“The press responses from the oil industry to the new estimates suggest that the industry isn’t fazed. The new estimates won’t discourage the oil companies and oil-industry service companies that, through fracking, have created something akin to a legal pyramid scheme. They’ll still grab drilling rights and build one frack site after the other if they think they can draw investors. And they’ll leave in their wake non- or low-producing frack sites, contaminated water, dirty air, toxic waste, and damaged land.”

Stop future fracking in the East Bay

stop-frackingThere are under a dozen low-producing oil wells in eastern Alameda County near Livermore.

WhatYouCanDo

Help get Alameda and Costa Counties to ban any new fracking/acidization/extreme-extraction projects. To work with the Bay Chapter’s Don’t Frack CA team on this, contact Aria Cahir at dontfrackcal@gmail.com. Our Alameda County sub-team meets every two weeks on Wednesday afternoon. Our Contra Costa team is looking for a leader.

See article on page D for our special Don’t Frack CA June meeting.