By Andrew Grinberg, Oil and Gas Program Coordinator
Most of the information on acid stimulation for oil and gas production comes courtesy of industry papers on how to maximize oil production. What we do know is pretty scary. High volume acid jobs can involve injecting thousands of gallons of acid into each well. This poses serious health and environmental risks at every step of the process. Any releases during the process, whether from transporting, mixing, injecting into the earth or what comes back up in the wastewater could have serious consequences. Exposure to hydrochloric acid can lead to burns, skin, eye and respiratory irritation and permanent damage and ingesting it can lead to permanent organ damage or death. According to some of these papers, and some industry representatives, acid jobs may be the preferred process for exploiting the Monterey Shale. We might be looking at a huge increase in its use.
Amazingly, just like hydraulic fracturing, California does not currently collect data on any well stimulation processes (fracking and acid jobs included), or even require a permit to proceed with these operations. The Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), the agency charged with regulating oil and gas extraction to protect public health and the environment, does not know to what extent, the location or which types of well stimulation processes have been used and has indicated hesitancy in including any process beyond hydraulic fracturing in its new set of regulations that it’s developing.
Following the hearing, Senator Pavley amended her bill, SB 4 , to apply to all forms of well stimulation. The bill would require disclosure of chemicals, notification to neighbors, groundwater monitoring before and after well stimulation and would require the state conduct a study on the risks and impacts of these oil and gas production techniques. The expansion of SB 4 is a major step in right direction as we work to better understand the risks and necessary safeguards of all well stimulation processes.
However, with so little information available to the public and state regulators, we need a moratorium. Clean Water Action is calling for a halt to all dangerous well stimulation processes, especially those where high volumes of acid or other hazardous chemicals, are injected into the earth.
And let’s not forget that all these risky technologies are designed to extract fossil fuels, which at every step of the way release potent greenhouse gases—from methane in the drilling process, to C02 when burned–changing our climate and undercutting our transition to clean renewable energy. With AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act in place, the last thing our state should be doing is facilitating the rapid increase of oil and gas extraction and increasing our carbon footprint.
As oil companies develop technologies like fracking and acid stimulation there is the potential for a major increase in drilling in California. Our state needs to slow down and assess the dangers of all these processes rather than allowing unchecked drilling to occur, and risk our health, environment, communities and climate.
Posted on July 5, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized
I wonder if we’ll stop before it’s too late. Will we actually have the brains to know money cannot buy us another planet or more water? It is our jobs as human beings to save the water we have, to take care of the water we have.
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