Category Archives: Fracking

California SB1132 (Fracking Moratorium) fails in Senate

From: Judi Sullivan
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2014 5:13 PM
Subject: California SB1132 Fails to Pass in the CA Senate

According to Senator Mitchell’s office at around 4:00 p.m. today, SB 1132 failed with a vote of 16 Ayes( yes votes) to 16 Noes (no votes), with 8 senators abstaining.  21 votes were needed for it to pass.  The oil companies won this round.

California Senate Bill 1132 (Fracking Moratorium) fails  on May 28 – another vote on May 29

[Editor: I received the following report and call to action from Judi Sullivan.  Read and make those phone calls!  – RS]

The vote was close.  18 to 16.  21 votes  are needed to pass the Bill.  A repeal was requested and granted.  Another vote will be taken tomorrow on the Bill and that one will be final.

It was suggested to call or to email the following Democratic Senators, or even better, if you know any of their constituents, to ask them to call and request a YES vote on SB 1132.  The democratic senators who voted against the Bill are:

S. Lara from Long Beach:  916-651-4033,  S. Torres from San San Diego:  916-652-4032, S. Hernandez from L.A:  926-651-4024.  I’m not sure where these other senators are from but you can look them up.  All represent  the fracking areas.  S. Correia, I think is from Modesto,  916-652-4034, , S. Waso:  I think is from the L A area. I don’t have his number.

Senator Mitchell’s office representative didn’t think it would be worth it to call the other Republican Senators who voted against the Bill as they aren’t likely to change their minds.

We still have a chance.  Only three swing votes are needed. I’m going to call all of them again and I hope that some of you will make some calls, too. If you know anyone in the districts that voted against the Bill, it’s important to have them realize that they are the most vulnerable to  the health and safety dangers of fracking.  Any of us can call, but the ones with the most influence  will naturally be those who live in the districts where a change vote could make a difference.

Even if the Bill fails, a strong stand has been taken by the public.  The oil companies have felt the strength of the grassroots effort. Testimonies given at the hearings were  specific, compelling   and well documented scientifically with none of the statistics re: concern for the health and safety of our earth, air, water, wildlife and people  refuted by the opposition.

Progress has been made.  Awareness is growing, as is our power base. This may or may not be reflected in the vote tomorrow,  but as a movement, we ARE on the rise and will prevail.

Much Love and Light,


Later: Another democratic senator to call that was left off the first list

Democratic Senator Galiano from Orange City:  916-651-4005.

Explaining concerns in addition  to asking for a YES vote is most effective.

Passing this  Bill does not effect their district’s current revenue from fracking unless current fracking sites are not following regulations set by SB 4. SB 1132 prohibits more oil stimulation wells from being established until health and safety issues for the population, land , air and water quality can be properly addressed and regulated, extending accountability by requiring a DEIR by July 2015.

In addition to other comments being made, I also have been mentioning that our city, for the first time in our history, is not receiving a water allotment from the State , emphasizing the drain being experienced up north which is related to the enormous amount of water required for fracking.

The final vote in the Senate on this Bill for this year is today.  If it doesn’t pass, the oil companies will have free reign to drill more wells.  When this Bill was first introduced, 90 more wells were planned.  That estimate has increased considerably.

Please do what you can.  It only takes a few minutes.

Thank you.

Judi Sullivan

Texas fracking verdict puts industry on notice about toxic air emissions

Repost from The Center For Public Integrity

Texas fracking verdict puts industry on notice about toxic air emissions

A nearly $3 million jury verdict against a Texas oil and gas company highlights regulatory failures and health risks linked to fracking

By David Hasemyer  |  May 28, 2014 
A TCEQ investigator filmed these "heavy plumes" of emissions wafting from the Aruba facility using an infrared camera. Thirty seconds later he reportedly “felt the physical effects of dizziness and a sore throat”.   Screenshot from TCEQ video
A TCEQ investigator filmed these “heavy plumes” of emissions wafting from the Aruba facility using an infrared camera. Thirty seconds later he reportedly “felt the physical effects of dizziness and a sore throat”. Screenshot from TCEQ video

Between February 2010 and July 2011, Lisa and Bob Parr filed 13 complaints about air pollution from gas and oil operations near their ranch in Wise County, Texas. Sometimes they had trouble breathing, they told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). They also experienced nausea, nosebleeds, ringing ears and rashes.

Other families were also alarmed. Between 2008 and 2011, the TCEQ received 77 complaints from Wise County, in the Barnett Shale drilling area in North Texas. One said the odor was so powerful that the complainant “couldn’t go outside,” according to the TCEQ report.

Frustrated and angry, the Parrs decided to sue. Their attorney warned them that lawsuits against the oil and gas industry rarely, if ever, succeed. But the Parrs persisted and last month won what appears to be the first successful U.S. lawsuit alleging that toxic air emissions from oil and gas production sickened people living nearby. A Dallas County jury found that Aruba Petroleum, a privately owned company based in Plano, Texas, “intentionally created a private nuisance” that affected the family’s health and awarded the Parrs almost $3 million in damages.

“When you don’t have a strong regulatory system, a system to prevent what happened to this family, the only place left to turn for help is the courts,” said Robert Percival, director of the University of Maryland’s Environmental Law Program.

There are no assurances the verdict against Aruba will survive an appeal or lead to regulatory changes in Texas or any of the other states where people complain their health is jeopardized by gas and oil drilling. The issues are so complex that the industry, the public and policy makers may be sorting through them for years.

Aruba has asked Judge Mark Greenberg, who presided over the Parrs’ case, to reverse the jury’s verdict. Greenberg is expected to hear arguments over the verdict in June.

“This case will be looked at very, very closely because it has set the stage in a way that has never been set before,” said attorney Tomas Ramirez. He represents two families in similar lawsuits in the booming Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas, where emissions are raising the same alarms that have been sounding in the heavily developed Barnett Shale region the Parrs call home.

Aruba used two long-standing industry arguments in its defense: That the emissions could have come from one of its competitors’ wells, and that it was in compliance with Texas environmental rules.

The fact that those arguments failed in this case “exposes every company to more possible litigation,” said Thomas McGarity, a University of Texas law school professor who specializes in environmental and administrative law.

“Losing this case was not good for the industry,” McGarity said. “My guess is the industry will coalesce around this case. The industry will want to stop the dam from breaking wide open … This is where they will take a stand.”

Aruba officials declined requests for interviews but released a statement though a public relations firm that said: “We contended the plaintiffs were neither harmed by the presence of our drilling operations nor was the value of their property diminished because of our natural gas development.”

In a motion to overturn the verdict, company lawyers argued “there is no evidence that Aruba engaged in any conduct intended to cause harm … Aruba’s operations complied with best industry practices and met the standard for a reasonable and prudent oil and gas operator.”

California Senate committee approves fracking moratorium – oil lobbyists spending millions

Repost from Daily Kos
[This from Judi Sullivan of Benicia, who attended the Appropriations Committee meeting: “This is a big victory.  The entire Senate vote is scheduled for this Tuesday, May 27.   All the senator’s offices, those listed HERE and the others not mentioned, along with the governor’s office have been contacted by phone.  According to the people I spoke with, they have been deluged with calls asking for support of This Bill.  Talked to real people each  time.  In addition to asking for a “yes” vote on sb 1132,  they were were open to hearing detailed comments about fracking concerns backed by research revealed in prior testimonies. All was respectfully received, even by those who represent  the fracking districts.  The more of us who voice our objections re: the  negative impacts of fracking to our government officials, the stronger our opposition can be felt.  The public’s grassroots effort is definitely gaining power. Hurray!”]

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Fracking Moratorium Bill

By Dan Bacher  |  May 23, 2014

In spite of the millions spent by Big Oil on lobbying in Sacramento every year, the California Senate Appropriations Committee today voted 4 to 2 to approve a bill, SB 1132, to place a moratorium on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in the state.

SB 1132, authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno, now moves to a vote on the Senate floor. Senators Gaines and Walters voted against the bill while Senators De León, Padilla, Hill and Steinberg voted to advance the bill to the floor.

The bill moved forward the same week that the U.S. Energy Administration reduced its previous estimate of recoverable oil in California by 96 percent.

“The cost-benefit analysis of fracking in California has just changed drastically,” said Senator Mitchell in a statement. “The costs to people, homes and the environment remain unacceptably high, but we now also know that the projected economic benefits are only a small fraction of what the oil industry has been touting.”

“The latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration reduces prior estimates of oil potential by 96%. Why put so many at risk for so little?” Mitchell asked.

“There’s no ocean of black gold that fracking is going to release tomorrow, leaving California awash in profits and jobs. We have the time, the need and, in SB 1132, the mandate to halt fracking while we determine if and how it can be done safely in California,” she said.(…)

David Turnbull of Oil Change International pointed out that those who voted against the legislation received big campaign contributions from Big Oil. (…)

“As usual, those voting against safeguarding the public interest and in favor of Big Oil’s wishes have received far more in Big Oil political contributions than those voting in favor of climate and community safety and against dangerous oil extraction processes,” said Turnbull.

The numbers, according to the organization’s Dirty Energy Money database, tell the story:

On average, Senators voting against the moratorium have received nearly 3 times as much in Big Oil contributions than those voting for.

The two Senators voting against the moratorium have received over $110k in Big Oil money combined (Sen. Walters = $82k, Sen. Gaines = $29k).

“As the vote comes to the California Senate floor in the coming days, you can be sure the oil industry will put the pressure on. The question is whether the members of the California Senate will listen to the people, who recent polls show resoundingly support a moratorium on fracking, or the Big Oil benefactors lining their campaign coffer,” said Turnbull.

“And, of course, Governor Brown could also step in any time now and enact a ban on fracking in the State…but so far he appears to be listening to his Big Oil friends as well,” noted Turnbull.

A previous analysis by Oil Change International showed that the 2 Senators voting against the passage of the fracking moratorium by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee in April received 16 times as much in fossil fuel contributions, on average, than those Senators in support of the bill.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) that is leading the campaign to frack California spends more money every year on lobbying in Sacramento than any other corporate group. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged “marine protected areas” in Southern California, is the President of the Association.

In her latest statement on the Western States Petroleum Association blog, Reheis-Boyd claims, “The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA), revision does not change the estimate of the amount of oil present. It only changes their estimate of how much of that oil can be produced given the current state of technology in California.” (…)

She used the new estimate as an opportunity to promote new “research and exploration,” which you can bet would be subsidized by taxpayers’ dollars.

“This change in the estimate of recoverable oil indicates the need to continue to invest in research and exploration in this area to adapt technologies that have proved successful at producing oil from shale resources elsewhere to California’s unique geology,” she claimed. “We have a great deal of confidence that the skill, experience and innovative spirit possessed by the men and women of the petroleum industry will ultimately solve this puzzle and improve production rates from the Monterey Shale.”

Reheis-Boyd’s organization spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol – and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (…) You can bet that a good chunk of this money spent so far this year was spent on trying to stop Senate Bill 1132.

A report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause also reveals that Big Oil’s combined spending on lobbying and political campaigns in Sacramento amounts to a stunning $266.9 million over the past 15 years. (…)

However, the oil industry’s money, power and enormous influence over state officials doesn’t change the fact that the Energy Information Administration’s estimate for technically recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale has been reduced from 13.7 billion barrels of oil to just 0.6 billion barrels of oil.

As Turnbull said so well, “With reports showing the bonanza that Big Oil wants Californians believe is largely a fantasy, and two-thirds of Californians supporting a stop to fracking in the state, Big Oil is on its heels. It’s time the people’s voice was heard over rustle of Big Oil dollar.”

Senate Bill 1132 Background:

SB 1132 requires the California Natural Resources Agency to facilitate an “independent scientific study” on well stimulation treatments (fracking and acidizing) and their hazards and risks to natural resources and public, occupational, and environmental health and safety by January 1, 2015.

The legislation would also:

      • require the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to adopt rules and regulations for well stimulation treatments by January 1, 2015, in consultation with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), CalRecycle, and any local air and regional water quality control boards;
      • require DOGGR to complete a statewide environmental impact report (EIR) by July 1, 2015 ;
      • allow operators to continue well stimulation practices while DOGGR completes its regulations, providing that the well owner complies with interim requirements.

If fracking is not banned, groundwater and surface supplies will be polluted with numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene.  According to the Center for Biological Diversity, evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Human health, endangered Central Valley salmon, steelhead and other fish populations and many wildlife species will be imperiled by increasing water pollution in California, as well as by the increasing use of water for fracking that is badly needed for people, farms and fish during the current drought.

Letter: Moratorium on fracking in California

Repost from The Los Angeles Times, PolitiCal
[Editor: Note that Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community is among the more than 100 environmental and community groups signing on to this letter.  – RS]

Groups pressure Legislature to back California fracking moratorium

Patrick McGreevy  |  May 22, 2014

More than 100 environmental and community groups Thursday sent a letter to the California Legislature urging lawmakers to support a moratorium on the oil-production method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in California.

Led by the national progressive group CREDO, the coalition is supporting SB 1132 by state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), which is pending in the Senate and would halt fracking to allow more studies to determine whether the method poses health hazards.

“This bill presents lawmakers with a clear-cut choice that will show whether they are on the side of oil industry lobbyists or Californians concerned about public health and safety,” said Zack Malitz, the campaign manager for CREDO. “It’s clear from the broad support across California that residents know a moratorium is the right path to protect our communities from the well-documented dangers of fracking.”

Groups that signed on to the letter include the Burbank Green Alliance, the California League of United Latin  American  Citizens, the California  League  of  Conservation  Voters, the Center  for  Biological  Diversity, and the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.

“Given  these  techniques’  long-term  consequence  and  known  harmful  impacts  elsewhere,  it  is  entirely  appropriate  for  California  to  impose  a  moratorium  on  fracking,  acidizing  and  all  well stimulation  while  the  state  reviews  the  current  and  future  effects  here,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, a new statewide poll found that 68% of Californians support a fracking moratorium until the practice can be studied more, and that a majority would be more likely to vote for a legislator who voted in favor of such a measure.

“This poll shows that most Californians have heard about fracking, and they don’t want it to create the same problems here that it has caused in other states,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California. The group commissioned the poll from the firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.