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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | Santa Cruz Indymedia | Environment & Forest Defense
Big Oil Permanently Poisons 2 Million Gallons of California Water Each Day
LOS ANGELES – At City Hall on August 13, City Councilmember Paul Koretz, Los Angeles residents and California climate and water experts called on Big Oil to stop wasting California’s water. During the worst drought in the state’s recent history, the oil and gas industry is permanently destroying millions of gallons of water and drilling deeper into the earth, threatening dwindling groundwater supplies by using fracking and other water-intensive extraction processes.
Unconventional fossil fuel extraction methods use huge volumes of water mixed with dangerous chemicals to release oil and gas from rock formations. The controversial technique has been used in thousands of California oil and gas wells, endangering the state’s air, water, wildlife, public health and climate.
“Fracking not only uses millions of gallons of water, it turns our water into a toxic sludge which then gets shoved underground where it can contaminate even more groundwater,” said City Councilmember Koretz. “The verdict is clear: fracking and clean, potable groundwater are not compatible. We cannot continue to risk our increasingly fragile water supply. Gov. Brown must show his leadership in protecting our water supply by enacting an immediate moratorium on fracking in California.”
For the first time, climate scientists and environmental groups have calculated how much water the oil industry is wasting and permanently polluting in Southern California. According to new analysis of industry data reported to the California Department of Conservation, FracFocus and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the oil industry in California is currently polluting over 2 million gallons of water each day due to fracking, acidizing and cyclic steam injection. By comparison, about 20,000 California homeowners use this much water in a day. Each month, Big Oil wastes roughly three times the amount of water that flooded University of California, Los Angeles due to the recent water main break.
While the water used by homeowners, agriculture and parks reenters the water cycle, the water used in fracking and other extreme extraction techniques is permanently polluted with carcinogenic chemicals and is lost forever.
“No other water user completely removes millions of gallons of water from the water cycle like the oil industry does,” said Tatiana Gaur, staff attorney at LA Waterkeeper. “Unconventional oil and gas extraction methods, such as fracking and acidizing, produce contaminated water which cannot be used again, and the water and chemicals that remain in the ground could pollute our aquifers. In Southern California, we rely on groundwater for much of our drinking water, and that has only become more necessary during the drought. The amount of water the oil industry is wasting and poisoning each day should be a wake-up call for anyone who cares about keeping our water clean, safe and abundant now and in the future.”
“My landlord has let our lawn go brown to save water in this historic drought and Angelenos are being asked to save,” said Hector Huezo, resident of Boyle Heights. “It’s disheartening that Big Oil companies are using thousands and thousands of gallons every day right in my backyard.”
Last month, California officials ordered an emergency shutdown of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites out of concerns that companies are pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers. On July 31, the state shut down another well.
The federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a new report calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its oversight of water contamination associated oil injectionwells and wastewater disposal sites. The GAO notes that, “every day in the United States, at least 2 billion gallons of fluids are injected into the over 172,000 wells to enhance oil and gas production.”
Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of about 200 environmental business, health, agriculture, labor, political and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking in California.