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Activists Ask California Governor For Fracking Ban

Activist and environmental groups petitioned California Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), citing action taken by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as an example.

The petition from a confederation of small organizations said it was shocking that "Gov. Brown has permitted fracking and other dangerous activities in California to continue unchecked without the completion of any statewide health or environmental review."

A spokesperson for the state Department of Conservation told NGI’s Shale Daily the California Council on Science and Technology and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted an assessment of fracking's impact. It found that fracking in California is different from the practice in other states, so imposing a moratorium would make no difference (see Shale Daily, Jan. 15).

The assessment is the first of three volumes. In addition, a state law (SB4) requires an environmental impact report on fracking and other forms of well stimulation treatments. It is to be completed July 1, when the state's permanent fracking rules become effective.

The lead researcher on the study, Jane Long, and state energy officials maintain that the oil/gas operating practices in California are a lot different than what is done in the high-profile Bakken, Eagle Ford, Utica and Marcellus shale plays.

"The wells in California tend to be fairly short and vertical; we tend to use a thick gel-like fracking fluid, and the purpose is to open up one short fracture that connects to a series of other fractures, compared to the long-reach horizontal wells with multiple fracking stages in other states,” Long said.

Leaders from more than 120 activist groups, including multiple Sierra Club chapters, told Brown that many fracking/well stimulation chemicals are "highly dangerous to human health and include a number of known and suspected carcinogens." In addition, they pointed out that fracking and/or the disposal of oil/gas wastewater into injection wells can induce earthquakes, an issue getting much attention these days in other states (see Shale Daily, Feb. 10).

"An immediate moratorium is well within the governor's power," the groups said. "At a minimum, the moratorium should apply to all forms of well stimulation, including fracking, acidizing and gravel packing."

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