Water Issues Reframe State Fracking Debate

July 14, 2014

San Francisco Daily Journal

The debate over fracking continues nationwide, but in California there is an increasing focus on one major issue: water supply. With the state facing one of the most severe droughts on record and water regulators tightening the reins on water use, opponents are trying to garner support for a moratorium by highlighting fracking’s consumption of fresh water.

Fracking – also known as hydraulic fracturing — is the practice of injecting water, sand, and other substances, known as proppants, into a well in order to access underground oil and gas deposits. Fracking is not new to California; in fact, it has been used throughout the state for decades. But the recent discovery of the Monterey Shale formation, which spans approximately 1,750 square miles and, according to federal authorities, contains 600 million barrels of recoverable oil, has brought the fracking debate to center stage.

The oil industry believes that fracking will allow the Monterey Shale oil to be accessed safely and economically, providing a financial boon to California and a big step toward energy independence. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, tax revenue from oil and gas development could grow from $4.5 billion to $24.6 billion if drilling in the Monterey Shale proceeds. But opponents are pushing back.

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