April 25, 2014

Search Results for: fracking

Stop Fracking Speakers Training–Sunday, April 13

Sunday, April 13, noon to 3:30 pm, Sierra Club Bay Chapter Office, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley.stop-fracking

Always wanted to speak about fracking and why we should stop it, but get tongue-tied in front of a crowd? If you live in the greater Bay Area, please join the Stop Fracking Speakers Training.

At the training you will have 20 minutes to do a presentation, and you will receive feedback and critique. If you want to do a slide presentation with your talk, we will send you a Dropbox link to download a Stop Fracking Powerpoint presentation and you are welcome to use any of its slides or create your own. You will need to prepare your presentation before the day of the training and to practice at home so you can bring it in within 20 minutes. Judy Pope of 350 Bay Area and a Sierra Club member, who has been a speakers trainer for decades, will be our trainer.

Please RSVP to Lora JoFoo, co-chair of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Don’t Frack California team, at ljfoo94546@yahoo.com or (510)282-9454.

SB 1132 would halt fracking in California

Anti-fracking protest.

Anti-fracking protest.

Update (April 8, 2014): SB 1132 passed today in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. It was a tough fight, but the bill is alive. Next up is the Environmental Quality Committee on April 30.

Frightening risks from fracking and well stimulation have been coming to light, including permanently contaminated water, air pollution, and public-health problems. Meanwhile, the stage has been set to allow fracking to expand exponentially both on land and offshore in California.

A bill has been introduced in the state Senate that will halt this dangerous activity.

Senate Bill 1132 by Sens. Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno would establish a moratorium that could be lifted only after completion of extensive studies of the dangers of fracking and other forms of well stimulation, including economic costs, effects on private property and land use, and risks to worker safety. A panel would have to determine if existing regulations and laws can protect against fracking’s negative impacts. The governor must use the study outcome to determine whether to lift the moratorium on fracking and well stimulation.

We need to put public safety first. Lax oversight allowed asbestos to kill more than 100,000 Americans even though industry officials had known of the chronic health dangers since the 1930s. Let’s not repeat the mistake with fracking.


Write to your state legislators today at:

State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814.

or find their e-mail addresses at http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov. Urge them to support SB 1132.

To work with our local Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s Don’t Frack California team, come to its monthly meetings on Mon., April 7, and Tue., May 13. Come also to the Bay Area Climate Conference: Renewables vs Extreme Extraction on Fri. – Sat., May 9 – 10.  For details on these, see the Chapter Calendar starting on page A. You can also contact team chairs Lora Jo Foo and Aria Cahir at dontfrackcal@gmail.com or (510)282-9454 (Lora Jo).

Rally in Sacramento to stop fracking–Saturday, March 15

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

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

Gather with your fellow Sierra Club members and Californians from across the state for the “Don’t Frack California” Rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Saturday, March 15, 1 – 3:30 pm.

Thousands of Californians will converge on the steps of the State Capitol and tell Gov. Brown to use his authority to issue an executive order immediately halting fracking/well stimulation in California.

Will you stand with us?

Oil companies have been using dangerous technologies to extract oil from California with virtually no oversight. Left unchallenged, they plan to up the ante–putting our air, water, people, and wildlife at even more risk from pollution and climate change.

Let’s show Gov. Brown that when it comes to standing up for the health of our environment, our people, and the future of our state; the Sierra Club always suits up, stands up, and speaks up!

Sign up to come.

Mike Thornton, California coast organizer, Sierra Club California

Stop fracking now!–meetings, speakers bureau, news update

stop-frackingThe Bay Chapter’s Don’t Frack CA team has many opportunities for you to learn about the threat of fracking and to get involved working towards a moratorium on fracking in California.

Monthly meetings

Tuesday, February 4, 6:30 pm, Bay Chapter Office, 2530 San Pablo Avenue (at Dwight), Berkeley.

Monday, March 3,

The monthly meeting of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s Stop Fracking Team will focus on water issues related to fracking, and strategizing our lobbying efforts in Sacramento for our March lobby day and rally (see below). We will also continue discussing goals, brainstorming strategies, and deciding on our activities to stop fracking in California.

Speakers bureau

The Bay Chapter Don’t Frack CA team has established a speakers bureau of eight trained speakers available to speak to your organization or committee at an event you organize.

Topics can include:

  • what are fracking and acidization?
  • what is going on now in California?
  • the Sierra Club call for a moratorium on fracking;
  • the health effects of fracking.

We can customize our presentation to your organizational needs.

For more information contact us at Dontfrackcal@gmail.com

News update

On Jan. 6, Assemblymembers Marc Levine, Das Williams, Adrin Nazarian, and Richard Bloom wrote to the governor asking him “to impose a moratorium on fracking while you fully investigate the science behind fracking for oil production.”

The letter points out that, “The vast public health and safety implications of fracking , as well as the tremendous public concern over this practice, require our collective and urgent action. We believe it is time to join with Californians who disapprove of the dangers fracking poses to their communities.  . . . As you know, California values protecting our environment and public health and safety. Current studies show fracking threatens California’s precious water supply, further disrupts our approach to mitigate the dangerous impacts of climate change, exacerbates our air pollution problems, and the disposal of wastewater associated with fracking may increase seismic activity.”

Friday, March 14 — “Fracking in California: Can We Still Be a Climate Leader?” — Green Friday

Anti-fracking protest.

Anti-fracking protest.

Friday, March 14 – “Fracking in California: Can We Still Be a Climate Leader?”

Fracking and acidizing, techniques that the oil industry wants to greatly expand in California, pose major risks to the water we drink, the air we breathe, our climate, and our future (see http://theyodeler.org/?s=fracking). They could drive California backwards instead of forwards as the climate leader. We will discuss efforts to stop fracking including state legislation, local initiatives, rallies, demonstrations, and bird-dogging Gov. Brown.

Presenters will be from the Bay Chapter’s “Don’t Frack California” speakers bureau.

Green Fridays are held the second Friday of each month, 7 – 9 pm, Chapter Office, 2530 San Pablo Avenue (one block south of Dwight Way) in Berkeley. Note new time and format: no potlucks; doors open at 7 pm for beverages and snacks; presentation begins at 7:30. Suggested donation is $3. Parking is on the street.

Green Fridays, sponsored by the Sierra Club Northern Alameda County Group, is a series of free public presentations by expert speakers on the most important environmental issues of our times. For more information, contact Ken Peter­son at kenpeterson45@att.net or Joanne Drabek at (510)530-5216.

Fracking and acidizing, techniques that the oil industry wants to greatly expand in California, pose major risks to the water we drink, the air we breathe, our climate, and our future (see page xxx). They could drive California backwards instead of forwards as the climate leader. We will discuss efforts to stop fracking including state legislation, local initiatives, rallies, demonstrations, and bird-dogging Gov. Brown.

Presenters will be from the Bay Chapter’s “Don’t Frack California” speakers bureau.

Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity win major fracking decision

The Salinas Valley is under pressure for private oil and gas leasing. This will threaten prime agricultural land, water supplies, and human health as well as destroying the unique natural landscape. Photo by Steve Zmak.

The Salinas Valley is under pressure for private oil and gas leasing. This will threaten prime agricultural land, water supplies, and human health as well as destroying the unique natural landscape. Photo by Steve Zmak.

On Aug. 2 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it would halt two hydraulic fracturing leases for oil drilling on federal lands managed by its Hollister office and covering several counties including Monterey. This decision came in the wake of a legal victory earlier this year in a suit brought by the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which challenged the BLM’s decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in Monterey County to oil companies. The BLM has now further agreed to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the effects and risks of fracking in the Monterey Shale, a region stretching from Ventura to Santa Cruz Counties.

This decision by the BLM follows a U.S. Northern CA District Court ruling in April that concluded that the BLM had violated the National Environmental Policy Act. The court ruled that BLM failed to consider the increased development potential of hydraulic fracturing and that BLM’s decision to rely upon an out-of-date environmental assessment was arbitrary and capricious. The Court further ruled that the BLM would have to conclude that environmental impacts were potentially significant and that the new drilling techniques warranted a new EIS.

This legal case was originally brought by the Sierra Club and CBD in December 2011. In April this year, the plaintiffs filed a second case challenging a larger 17,000-acre BLM oil lease in the same region of the Monterey Shale.

Hydraulic fracturing is not the only newer form of drilling technology involved. The oil industry has stated that acid treatment or “acid jobs” are expected to be a common technique in the Monterey Shale. This technique will use a cocktail of hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals to dissolve rocks and other earthen materials in oil wells to allowing oil to flow more freely for extraction.

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal-drilling technology has become notorious for contaminating groundwater in numerous states stretching from Pennsylvania to Wyoming. Extensive evidence has accumulated to show that oil and gas wells commonly leak fracking contaminants into groundwater basins through which the oil-well casing passes to reach the petrochemicals that can be miles deep in the earth. Oil wells are sealed with cements that fill the space between the drill hole and the well pipe or casing. These cement plugs commonly fail and allow contaminants and fracking chemicals to rise from deep in the earth and pollute shallower groundwater. The well pipes (casings) themselves also crack and corrode. Fracking uses extreme water pressure to break up rock miles deep in the earth. The well sites are major industrial facilities and are nothing like the older pump jacks that have operated in California for the last 100 years.

from the web site of the Sierra Club Ventana Chapter at http://ventana.sierraclub.org/conservation/oildrilling/index.shtml


Protect public lands from reckless fracking–deadline tomorrow!

Michael Brune.

Michael Brune.

What’s more, most of this new drilling is hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which is so dangerous, destructive, and polluting that there’s no reason why any additional public lands should be leased to drillers. Air-polluting gas flares are bad enough–running the risk of contaminating the water table of a national park is unthinkable.

“All of the above” also ignores the fact that, if we want to limit climate disruption from fossil fuels, we need a policy that leaves most of them below the ground.

Nevertheless, all summer long the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been accepting public comments on a proposed update of federal regulations for oil and gas fracking on the public lands it manages. Presumably that’s an attempt to honor a pledge President Obama made in his 2012 State of the Union address–that America would develop resources like natural gas “without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

Given the effect on our climate of extracting and burning all of that natural gas, and that fracking is the primary way it will happen, the president has set an impossible goal. Yet the proposed new regulations manage to fail even to adequately address the risks of the fracking that is already occurring on leased public lands.

There are at least seven serious flaws with the current proposed rules:

1. Although the draft rules require partial disclosure of chemicals used after fracking occurs, they should require full public disclosure of all chemicals to be used before fracking starts. The industry should not be allowed to hide behind claims of “trade secrets” to exempt some chemicals from disclosure. Other statutes, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, recognize this principle and specifically reject claims of trade secrecy in reports of discharges. Why should fracking get an exemption?

2. As has already begun to happen in states, we need to move away from the practice of storing toxic fracking waste in open-air pits. Ultimately, it should be abolished altogether. Instead, the draft rules propose to continue this outdated and dangerous practice. If states like New Mexico and Colorado are putting tight restrictions on open-air pits, shouldn’t we do at least the same for lands held in the public trust?

3. The draft fails to update outdated well-construction rules. This is critical if we’re to avoid water contamination. In fact, the BLM’s current draft is even weaker in this respect than the one it circulated last year. For example, it allows the industry to test only a few wells, rather than confirm that every individual well meets construction standards.

4. The draft doesn’t require baseline water testing before fracking is approved. This is essential to help protect drinking water. It is the best way to determine whether water has been contaminated by fracking.

5. The draft completely fails to address the air pollution from oil and gas drilling. Methane emissions from natural gas wells are just one of the serious problems this ignores.

6. The draft doesn’t establish safe setbacks from homes, schools, and sensitive environmental features. Public lands are often very close to communities. More than 1,400 public schools across six western states are within one mile of federal oil and gas resources.

7. The draft would continue to allow the use of diesel in fracking fluids. Even the Obama administration’s own advisory committee on fracking unequivocally said that was a bad idea.

All of the problems listed above should be addressed for public land leases that have already happened. But let’s be clear: in the case of federal lands that haven’t already been leased, the BLM should allow no new fracking at all. And sensitive and unique areas (like those adjacent to national parks) should be placed off-limits to oil and gas fracking whether they’ve been leased or not.

Already, hundreds of thousands of people have let the BLM know that these draft rules fail to properly protect our public lands from the oil and gas industries. Time’s running out, though–the comment period closes after Fri., Aug. 23. Let the BLM know where you stand.

Michael Brune, executive director, Sierra Club

Click here to add yourself to Michael Brune’s e-mail list.

Protect our communities: tell Congress to close fracking loopholes for oil and gas polluters!

stop-frackingOur nation is under a frack attack! Dirty oil and gas drilling and fracking are expanding — polluting the air, water, and nearby landscapes of communities across the country. Fracking — the process of injecting chemicals, water, and sand at high pressure into the ground to extract natural gas or oil — is dangerous and controversial. Yet the fracking industry doesn’t even have to follow the same environmental rules or laws that other industries do! 

Five bills just introduced in Congress would force oil and gas companies to obey environmental laws and would help better protect our clean air and clean water from toxic drilling pollution:

  • the BREATHE Act, which would close the loopholes in the Clean Air Act for the oil and gas industry and clean up toxic air pollutants;
  • the CLEANER Act, which would make toxic oil and gas waste subject to federal hazardous-waste laws and require that precautions be taken when storing, transporting, or disposing of this dangerous material;
  • the FRAC Act, which would apply the Safe Drinking Water Act to fracking, make the identity of fracking chemicals public, and close the “Halliburton loophole”, which denies the Environmental Protection Agency authority to protect drinking water from fracking;
  • the FRESHER Act, which would close the loophole in the Clean Water Act and protect rivers and streams from oil and gas drilling site pollution;
  • the SHARED Act, which would require testing of water sources near planned fracking sites, before and after fracking occurs, to establish baseline conditions and determine the source of any water contamination.


To tell your representative to sponsor these important bills to better protect our landscapes, air, water, and public health from fracking pollution, go to https://secure.sierraclub.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=11769.

Act now to gain information on fracking chemicals

Public access to information about toxic chemicals used in fracking is at risk again.

AB 7 (Wieckowski), a bill that would allow companies like Halliburton to hide behind the law to keep information about chstop-frackingemicals used in fracking away from the public, is up for a vote any day now in the Assembly.

Call your Assembly representative now and urge a NO vote on AB 7! Tell your legislator today that poisonous fracking fluids pumped into the ground do NOT deserve trade-secret protections. And doctors should not be prohibited from sharing all they learn about the effects fracking fluids have on their patients.

We thought we had ended AB 7 in an Assembly committee (see “Club opposes fracking-secrecy bills”), but it has re-emerged and it is headed to the Assembly floor.

The fight to control fracking in California now revolves around the public’s right to know what toxic chemicals are being injected under pressure into the earth to extract oil—including near sensitive groundwater sources. AB 7 orders regulatory agencies to treat fracking fluid content as a secret if fracking-fluid makers and users, like Halliburton, want to keep the information away from the public. The bill also contains an astounding gag on physicians.

There is no time to waste! Call your Assembly representative today and urge a NO vote on AB 7.

Thanks for standing up for the environment and the public’s right to know.

Kathryn Phillips, director, Sierra Club California

Club opposes fracking-secrecy bills

stop-frackingThe Sierra Club has opposed two fracking bills in the legislature because each carries language that would put into statute trade-secret protections for fracking fluids; that is, that would allow oil and gas companies to withhold information about what chemicals they are injecting into the ground. Each also carries within that trade-secrets language a section that would create a gag on physicians that could delay or prevent dissemination of information about health hazards associated with fracking fluids.

Our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity and at Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles have also been overt opponents of the trade-secret and physician-gag pieces of the bills. Sierra Club national staff, including the legal team, have helped us develop our arguments, and Sierra Club California staff, interns, volunteers, and general activist members have all played a role in making sure the legislature knows where we stand on the trade-secrets issue.

One of the bills we have opposed, AB 7 (Wieckowscki), came up in Assembly Natural Resources Committee on June 12 and failed to get the votes it needed to get out. That means Sierra Club and our allies carried the day, thanks to all the help from so many parts of the Club.

If you have a chance, please send a hand-written thank-you note or quick call to Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro, who chairs that committee, and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, who sits on the committee. Their “not voting” positions were important to kill the bill, and they care about what Sierra Club members think. You can find contact information for these legislators at http://assembly.ca.gov.

The other bill with same trades-secret problem is Sen. Fran Pavley’s SB 4, which has passed through the Senate and is now positioned to go through the Assembly committee and floor processes.

Below is our most recent oppose letter on AB 7. It explains our reasons for our trade-secret position.

June 10, 2013

The Honorable Bob Wieckowski
California Assembly
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: AB 7 (Wieckowski)—Fracking—Opposed

Dear Assemblymember Wieckowski:

Thank you for the discussion you held last week regarding AB 7. Sierra Club California will continue to oppose the bill and I am sending this letter to highlight my organization’s opposition to the bill’s trade secrets provisions, the reasons for that opposition, and proposed bill language for an alternative approach to the trade secrets issue.

To be clear, Sierra Club California’s opposition to the trade secrets provisions in your AB 7 reflects the experience with fracking policy that Sierra Club members and staff members have had around the country. We have not come to this position quickly or lightly. It is borne of experience trying to ensure that fracking does not endanger public health or the environment, including water and air quality.

We oppose trade secrets protections for fracking fluids because such protections

a.) hinder the public’s ability to provide informed oversight of regulatory agency performance;

b.) prevent an accurate assessment of pre-fracking baseline conditions of soil and water and post-fracking results; and

c.) run contrary to other laws related to emissions into the environment.

On this last point, it’s worth noting that some have argued that fracking fluids should not be treated any differently from any other trade secret protected product. This assumes that products that emit toxics into the environment are the same as any other product. In fact, they are not. Numerous federal statutes explicitly disclaim trade secret exemptions for chemicals introduced into the environment, such as effluent discharges under the Clean Water Act and air emissions under the Clean Air Act. Because of the significant risk of chemicals used in fracking escaping to ground or surface water, and because soil contamination is inherent in their use, comprehensive disclosure is similarly necessary here.

Sierra Club urges that you eliminate the trade secrets provisions in AB 7, including the physicians’ gag, and instead amend into the bill language that will proactively protect the public’s right to know. Here is proposed language to replace Sec. 3203 (c):

An operator or supplier must disclose the chemical composition of additives as required by subsection (b), and the division shall make this information public, notwithstanding any provision of law relating to trade secrets or confidential business information, including but not limited to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Civil Code § 3426 et seq., the Public Records Act, Government Code § 6254.7 (d), and Section 1060 of the Evidence Code.

We ask you to provide this direction to ensure the public has needed access to the information to protect public health and the environment


Kathryn Phillips
[Sierra Club California]

Cc: Assembly Natural Resources Committee Members and Staff