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The Keystone XL pipeline has birthed a movement, massive rallies, and even the Keystone Principle - "Specifically and categorically, we must cease making large, long-term capital investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” dangerous emission levels for many decades." Keystone is a carbon bomb.

Very nearly as explosive, yet virtually ignored: California's oil awaiting fracking. The state's oil reserves - 400 billion barrels - were long considered dwindling, until fracking the oil has promised to liberate, or something, 15 billion barrels.

The math puts the carbon impacts of California's oil on par with Keystone. The respected Skeptical Science blog calculates Keystone's impact over 40 years as adding 7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. I did the math and found that California's easily available oil awaiting fracking is 6.45 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

7 billion tons of carbon pollution is more than 6.45 billion tons, but not much more.

The chemistry agrees: California's oil is as dirty as the Canadian tar sands. State data shows that several California oil fields produce just as much carbon dioxide per barrel of oil as the tar sands do. A handful of fields yield even more.

The ugly physics of handling this dirty oil are reminiscent of the Keystone pipeline's politics of exporting pollution. California's landmark global warming law, AB32, institutes a low carbon fuel standard. High-carbon oil won't be refined here. It will be shipped to  less climate-conscious states or less finicky countries. And transporting dirty oil out of state will create yet more pollution.

The Keystone Principle demands that California's oil stay underground; the terrifying new math of global warming demands that California's stay underground. Meanwhile, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity paints it as "black gold":

One would think that environmentally aware Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrats in the California legislature who passed AB32 would be lining up to oppose fracking this carbon bomb.

IMAG0681One would be wrong.

The people attending Forward on Climate rallies throughout the nation don't want fracking - the Los Angeles rally that I attended yesterday had prominent anti-fracking signs and speakers. But not a single Democrat in the California legislature will touch a fracking moratorium bill. They're too busy nibbling around the edges of regulating well casings, as if that somehow makes it all right to frack all this dirty carbon. They're too busy siding with the Koch brothers, against the people who elected them, and against the climate. They're going to frack up the Golden State.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:20 AM PST.

Also republished by California politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  take action: (24+ / 0-)

    if you're in Los Angeles, the state Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources will hold a DOGGR-and-Pony show on draft regulations February 19 at the downtown Doubletree Hotel, 120 South Los Angeles Street, from 9 AM to 4 PM.

    If you're not able to attend, sign this petition for a moratorium on fracking California.

    Do the math. #unfrackCal. @RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:16:53 AM PST

  •  NYT story on fracking in California (12+ / 0-)

    The New York Times did a pretty good story a couple of weeks ago about fracking in California.

    Gist of it is... oil companies are gearing up to heavily drill in the Monterey Shale deposits, in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, to the west of Bakersfield.

    If these areas are successfully drilled, it would make California the leading oil producing state in the country.

    Comprising two-thirds of the United States’s total estimated shale oil reserves and covering 1,750 square miles from Southern to Central California, the Monterey Shale could turn California into the nation’s top oil-producing state and yield the kind of riches that far smaller shale oil deposits have showered on North Dakota and Texas.
    This needs to be brought under some kind of control now, before the drilling begins. I'm not against all oil development, but it must be done carefully and with extreme consideration of the environmental impacts.

    And California damn sure needs to institute an oil-severance tax, though I'm not holding my breath over that one.

    Please proceed, governor

    by Senor Unoball on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:34:42 AM PST

    •  California already has a severance tax... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Unoball, Simplify

      ...it's just conveniently not called a "severance tax,"  but is still a tax per barrel of oil produced.

      Oil and Gas Severance taxes by state.

      •  Huh (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RLMiller
        DOGGR Announces New Assessment Rate
        (Posted 6/15/2012)

        The Oil and Gas Assessment rate for fiscal year 2012-2013 is 14.06207 cents per barrel of oil or 10 Mcf of natural gas produced. This is a 1.39956 cent (10.53 percent) increase from the previous year. The increase is primarily due to an augmentation of the Division's regulatory resources, as well as administrative and technology support in combination with the expected decline in oil and gas production levels.

        Oil's at $95.38 today, so that's 0.147%. Pretty feeble, and nothing commensurate with the externalities.

        Gotta love Alaska:

        • Ranges from 25 percent to 50 percent depending on net value of oil and gas, which is the value at point of production minus certain lease expenditures
        • 22.5 percent net value at wellhead
        • There is an additional surcharge for each dollar when net value exceeds $40 per barrel. This cannot exceed 25 percent of the monthly production tax value of taxable oil and gas.
        • Conservation surcharge of 4 cents per barrel and an additional 1 cent per barrel if there is less than $50 million in the Hazardous Release Fund

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:17:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very well stated! Two must-read articles... (9+ / 0-)

    I love your statement, "But not a single Democrat in the California legislature will touch a fracking moratorium bill. They're too busy nibbling around the edges of regulating well casings, as if that somehow makes it all right to frack all this dirty carbon. They're too busy siding with the Koch brothers, against the people who elected them, and against the climate. They're going to frack up the Golden State."

    It is essential to understand that the oil industry lobby, currently the post powerful corporate lobby in the state, owes much of its current ability to push for fracking, offshore oil drilling, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the evisceration of environmental laws due to the empowering of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, by state officials and corporate "environmental" NGOs. Reheis-Boyd is the lead lobbyist for fracking in California now.

    These officials and so-called "environmentalists" shamefully embraced and green washed the key role that Reheis-Boyd, Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, played in the creation of questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast.

    By embracing Reheis-Boyd as a "marine guardian," corporate "environmental" NGO representatives and state officials greatly increased the oil industry's power in California with implications that are only now beginning to be seen.

    The marine protected areas created under the MLPA Initiative are not real marine protected areas in any sense. Bowing to ocean industrialists, these alleged "marine reserves" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

    In her latest Western States Petroleum Association "article," Reheis-Boyd claims that "fluctuations" in gasoline prices are attributable only to "market conditions." That statement is about as true as claiming that Reheis-Boyd's marine protected areas "protect" the ocean - or claiming that Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels will "protect" the Delta and Central Valley salmon populations.

    "Dozens of investigations over the years have consistently found that fluctuations in gasoline prices – both upward and downward – are attributable to market conditions, not illegal activity on the part of the petroleum industry," said WSPA president Catherine Reheis-Boyd .

    "WSPA's members have always cooperated fully in these inquiries and will do so in this case. We are confident the conclusion will be similar to that of Stillwater Associates," Reheis-Boyd concluded. (http://www.prnewswire.com/...)

    Here are two must-read articles about Reheis-Boyd's role in corporate greenwashing: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/... and http://yubanet.com/...

  •  If fracking can bring earthquakes to the East (4+ / 0-)

    Coast, just think what it will do for California!

    Filibuster reform, 2013 - woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    by bear83 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:29:50 AM PST

  •  I think you need to do a little more research (7+ / 0-)

    Recovery of thick heavy oil as described by sfgate is not the same as shale oil recovery from the Monterrey formation. Therefore, your numbers will probably need to be adjusted.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:50:44 AM PST

    •  let me know how... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Unoball, SolarMom, 6412093, AoT, Simplify

      I started with the EPA calculator of an average of 0.43 metric tons of carbon dioxide per barrel.

      Do the math. #unfrackCal. @RL_Miller

      by RLMiller on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:40:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You could look at data from North Dakota (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Senor Unoball, AoT, Simplify

        shale oil produced by fracking. That might be a start. I don't know what's available on the shale in the Monterrey formation. What I do know is that the extraction process is different from the tarry stuff left in the Central Valley oil fields.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:18:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fishgrease

        distorted the quoted SF Gate article about California oil, implying it was just as dirty to extract as Tar Sands.  In fact the article said that most California oil was less polluting, using current methods, to extract than Tar Sands.

        While the diary calculated the carbon releases from burning a barrel of oil to assert that California is bad as Canada, It did not provide comparative calculations for carbon emitted by the oil extraction procedures, which would probably show that California oil is produced relatively cleanly using current methods.

        And all of those calculations only looked at current extraction methods.

        The diary contained no evidence on how much carbon would be emitted by extracting oil using fracking.  Fracking could produce less carbon emissions than some of the currently operating, tired old wells around Bakersfield, where gas-fired power plants crank out 1000s of megawatts and millions of tons of steam to recover that oil.

        The diary denigrated California for attempting to tighten regulations on well casings.  Heck, that is a very important regulation to strengthen, and could vastly reduce or eliminate water pollution from oil extraction efforts.  California deserves praise for looking that regulation over. Well casing failures have caused most if not all groundwater problems around fracked areas.

        Right now there are almost 32 million motor vehicles in California, consuming about 17 billion gallons of fuel a year for the foreseeable future, more than any other state. California produces and imports oil of all qualities, including tar sands, from around the world, and that international fuel hauling adds many tons of greenhouse gasses to the air.  We'd be better off producing that oil within California, especially if the new fracked wells produce less carbon than the older conventional wells and/or some of the imported oil.

        Finally, IIRC, fracking hasn't caused earthquakes.  Its waste water re-injection has caused earthquakes.  That's another regulation I hope California ratchets down.

        Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

        by 6412093 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 02:52:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Senor Unoball, 6412093

          We see anti-frac protesters arm-in-arm with anti-KXL protesters. There's obviously the assumption that they're the same thing.

          Problem is that the cleanest oil in the USA right now is from some hydraulically fractured wells in North Dakota. Energy spent on production is almost zero. You open the wing valve and here comes the oil. That oil refines easily, too.

          I can understand people being against everything oil & gas, but not when they still use oil & gas daily without any attempts at conservation.

          It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

          by Fishgrease on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:18:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just for the sake of discussion (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fishgrease

            Danbury Corp. captures industrial CO2 emissions and injects it into the ground to recover oil.  That process actually sequesters carbon that would otherwise be emitted, and also recovers oil.  So it might be even cleaner than the ND fracked wells.  

            The ND Bakken fracked oil is currently destroying the market for the Tar Sands because it's closer and easier to process.  We are even shipping it to Canada (by train).

            Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

            by 6412093 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:37:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very rare (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RLMiller, 6412093

              that CO2 flood (or sometimes called sweep) results in net carbon sequestration.

              Basic CO2 sequestration is into a separate long term disposal interval.

              I'm interested in how much they use for flood and over time, how much per bbl stays put away.

              The process you describe may in fact put net CO2 away. I've just never heard of that being the case when it is used to move oil.

              I did CO2 injection on a project more than a decade back. It's difficult. CO2 is some weird stuff under 5000 or 6000 psi.

              It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

              by Fishgrease on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:31:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Some CO2 comes back up in the oil (0+ / 0-)

                their operation near Pearland, south of Houston, has a CO2 recovery plant.

                But they are pumping millions of tons of CO2 2 miles down into the oil fields, I gotta believe most of it stays down there and I think there are reactions with some mineral layers that immobilizes it.

                The Fed DOE is assuming about 75% capture and 100% sequestering as part of their massive loan guarantee to the Lake Charles Cogen and the Port Arthur Refinery H2 reformer to capture and sell CO2 to Denbury for injection at Pearland.

                Denbury also has big CO2 capture/injection networks from gas plants in Colo/Wy/Montana into nearby oil fields.

                Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

                by 6412093 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:30:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Also, if we could all use just 10% less (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RLMiller, 6412093

              gasoline and/or diesel, the KXL pipeline would shut down. Profit margins are tiny.

              Oil falls to about $65/bbl and they fold.

              It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

              by Fishgrease on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:34:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Needs emphasizing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Unoball, greengemini, RLMiller, AoT
    High-carbon oil won't be refined here. It will be shipped to  less climate-conscious states or less finicky countries. And transporting dirty oil out of state will create yet more pollution.
     As the article pointed out, it's not just exporting dirty oil out of state, it's also the carbon footprint of importing "cleaner" oil to the state (to meet the overall AB32 requirements.)

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:58:59 AM PST

  •  Jerry Brown is a horrible governor (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, Senor Unoball, Simplify

    He's already talking about making CA more business friendly by changing environmental laws.  It's a god damn joke.  He's got a super-majority and he's fucking over the state.  Why bother electing dems if they're going to screw us over?

  •  Fraccidents (4+ / 0-)

    Last week there was a fracking accident in Colorado that received very little press.

    It took at least 20 people to wrest control of the oil and gas well that spewed a horizontal geyser of green-tinted fracking water for more than 30 hours Monday and Tuesday about four miles east of Fort Collins.
    This is a link to a map of the United States with fracking accident marked, as well as areas of drilling and proposed drilling.
  •  Fraccidents.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Senor Unoball, RLMiller

    The correct link to the article about the Colorado accident.

  •  The Tar Sands industry is global and monumental (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells, RLMiller, Simplify

    because it involves possibly the destruction of a total of 100,000 square miles of boreal forest. It is taking place in the the world's 3rd largest watershed. I'm seeing it compared with mountain top mining, the coal industry and now California tracking. The Tar Sands open pit miining and steam extraction project is taking place up north out-of-sight of most Canadians and Americans.
    Judge for yourself
    Excelleent al Jazeera documentary
    Witness: To the Last Drop
    Part One
    Part Two

    Good diary and I hope you can stop the fracking in California.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:35:55 PM PST

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