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5 Fatal Flaws in California's New Fracking Regulations
Proposed regulations meant to govern fracking in California would do little to protect the state's environment, wildlife, climate and public health, according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity. Fracking—currently unmonitored in California—uses huge volumes of water mixed with dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas. Hundreds of wells have been fracked in California in recent years. Today's draft proposal by California's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources was supposed to be the first step in explicitly regulating this controversial practice.
“The Department of Conservation's draft fracking rules do almost nothing to protect our air, water and climate,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. “California faces huge environmental risks unless state officials halt this dangerous fracking boom.”
Among the biggest flaws in California's draft fracking regulations:
1. Little regulatory protection for air, water and climate: The state's draft regulations do nothing to protect people living near fracked wells from air pollutants that increase risks of cancer and respiratory illness. They do not protect residents from exposure to and contamination by the large volume of toxic wastewater fracking produces. They do not require well operators to use devices to capture methane—a potent greenhouse gas. The regulations utterly ignore seismic risks, which science increasingly suggests are linked to fracking. Operators are even given five days to report an unauthorized release of chemical-laden fracking fluids.
2. No requirement to collect and disclose baseline data needed for effective regulation: Well operators would not be required to collect basic air quality and water quality data prior to fracking that is needed to effectively verify no damages occur from fracking.
3. Huge “Trade Secrets” loophole allows well operators to avoid disclosing use of dangerous fracking chemicals: Oil and gas companies could avoid disclosure merely by claiming that maintaining the secrecy of their chemical formulas gives them a competitive advantage. Health professionals would be required to sign a confidentiality agreement before obtaining the information to treat patients harmed by fracking chemicals.
4. No direct notification to people with homes or drinking water wells next to fracking wells: Oil and gas companies need only give state regulators 10 days notice of their fracking plans, and regulators need only give the public three days notice that fracking will occur by posting information to its website.
5. Public notification to occur on industry-linked website: California's draft regulations require well operators to report fracking on FracFocus.org, a website with ties to the oil and gas industry that does not provide real transparency and accountability.
“These draft regulations would keep California's fracking shrouded in secrecy and do little to contain the many threats posed by fracking,” Siegel said. “These regulations are going to have to be completely rewritten if the goal is to provide real protection for our air, water, and communities.”
Current California law already sets forth permitting requirements for subsurface injection that, if enforced, would preclude fracking, but the new regulations would remove fracking from this program.
“Because fracking is not allowed under the current but unenforced regulations, this proposal is worse than nothing,” said Siegel.
Fracking has been tied to water and air pollution in other states, and it releases huge quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. More than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone, and recent advances in fracking techniques are driving a growing interest in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation holding an estimated 14 billion barrels of oil.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."