Activist blames Los Angeles earthquakes on fracking in California

After a series of earthquakes and aftershocks hit the Los Angeles Area in March, CREDO, a progressive organization working to halt fracking in California. In the meantime, the political theater is timed to promote SB-1132 ahead of a California Assembly Committee vote to halt fracking in California.

Introduced in March, by State Senators Mitchell and Leno, SB-1132 would impose a moratorium on all well stimulation–including fracking and acidizing, on-shore and off-shore—until the state’s study on the threats and impacts of fracking is complete and measures are in place to protect against negative impacts.

Does fracking in California cause earthquakes?

“We know fracking can lead to earthquakes. So why is California allowing oil and gas companies to inject toxic fracking wastewater underground near active fault lines in the Los Angeles area?” asked Zack Malitz, CREDO’s campaign manager. “As if protecting our state’s water wasn’t reason enough, Gov. Brown cannot ignore the dangerous connection between fracking operations and earthquakes — especially not here in California.”

fracking in california shale oil formationA recent report out by the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks and Clean Water Action, showing the connection between fracking operations and earthquakes, revealed that there are 87 active oil and gas wastewater injection wells within one mile of an active fault line, 350 wells within 5 miles and 834 wells within 10 miles. The fracking wells and wastewater injection wells are located throughout California — not just on the Monterey Shale. There are also several fracking wells and wastewater injection wells around La Habra, CA, which was the center of last week’s earthquake.

Fracking in California

At 545,000 barrels per day, California is the third most prolific U.S. oil producing state, according to the EIA. California also ranks third in refining capacity. It’s capable of fractionating about 2 million barrels per day in the state’s 20 refineries. Meanwhile, California has vast oil reserves that are currently untapped. However, some of those reserves are in politically sensitive offshore locations. On the other hand, California’s governor has shown some willingness to consider tapping the Monterey/Santos shale play in Southern California, which is estimated to hold over 15 billion barrels of oil.

Following the earthquake that hit the Los Angeles area on March 18th, LA City Council members called for an investigation into whether the quake was connected to fracking operations. Other states are beginning to grapple with the looming earthquake threat as regulators from Kansas, Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma are coming together to develop plans to monitor and address the increased number of earthquakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, earthquakes in the central U.S. have increased by six times from 2000 to 2011.

Ban on fracking in California faces tough road

According to

Senators Mitchell and Leno’s bill, SB 1132, faces an uphill struggle. All but one fracking bill, including fracking moratorium legislation, failed to pass through the Legislature last year due to intense lobbying by the Western States Petroleum Association and oil companies.

The only fracking bill to pass through the legislature and be signed by the Governor in 2013 was Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, legislation that gives the green light to fracking in California. SB 1132 calls for a moratorium on all forms of “extreme well stimulation,” including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and acidization until a comprehensive, independent and multi-agency review exploring the economic, environmental and public health impacts is complete. 

“A moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low,” said Senator Mark Leno. “We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water.

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