SB 1132, the proposed moratorium on fracking (and acidization), was introduced earlier this year by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). If enacted, SB 1132 would place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, acidizing treatments and other stimulation treatments in California.
On April 8th, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water Quality advanced SB 1132 with a 5-2-2 vote. Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) and Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) voted against the measure. The two abstentions came from Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). The abstaining democrats and the opposing republicans argued that the measure would impact constituents that work at oil and gas fields in their districts. Then, on April 30th, SB 1132 passed through the Senate Environmental Quality Committee with a 5-2 vote. Senator Ted Gaines (R–Roseville) and Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) voted against it. Once again, the opposing republicans feared that many jobs would be lost if such a moratorium passed. Senator Mitchell responded to these concerns: “My community needs jobs, but those jobs need to be safe for workers and surrounding communities.”
The bill made its way through the Committee on Appropriations on May 19th and was put into suspense. The bill will receive a final ruling in the coming days. For members in this committee, this vote will determine if the health and safety of their constituents truly outweighs the financial contributions of the oil and gas industry. The democrats on this committee include: Senators Kevin De Leon, Ricardo Lara, Jerry Hill, Darrell Steinberg, and Alex Padilla. The Republicans are Mimi Walters and Ted Gaines.
The Oil & Gas Industry Is Fracking Our Democracy
A recent study was conducted by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause called "Big Oil Floods the Capitol: How California’s Oil Companies Funnel Funds Into the Legislature". The study's findings are quite sobering: "Over the past 15 years, Big Oil spent a whopping $143.3 million on political candidates and campaigns." Says the report. "In addition to its political contributions, Big Oil exerts considerable influence lobbying in Sacramento. Big Oil employs high profile, high powered lobbyists to ensure their interests are represented. In the past 15 years, the price tag for these lobbyists has totaled $123.6 million." When you do the math on Big Oil's expenditures in Sacramento over the past 15 years, the staggering total amounts to $266.9 million.
In just the past five years alone, the Oil and Gas Industry has flooded $56,633,498 into Sacramento.
Here's the full list of contributors:
1. The Western States Petroleum Association: $23,987,896
2. Chevron: $13,457,771
3. BP Global: $3,251,060
4. AERA Energy (jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil): $2,513,993
5. Conoco Phillips: $2,344,510
6. Occidental: $2,256,230
7. Shell: $2,127,881
8. Exxon: $2,105,419
9. California Independent Petroleum Association: $1,616,756
10. Phillips66: $1,275,199
11. Fueling California: $646,799
12. California Independent Oil Manufacturers Association: $447,528
13. Tesoro: $313,999
14. Valero: $288,459
"The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying [California's] state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State’s Office and compiled by Capitol Weekly." The WSPA is by far the largest spender in Sacramento politics. They happen to be the largest source of industry bullshit as well.
Jobs, Jobs, Economy & Jobs
The Oil and Gas industry continues to masquerade our environmental, health and climate concerns with the typical rhetoric of a booming economy and a plethora of jobs.
Earlier this year, the Western States Petroleum Association released a report to emphasize the economic and job benefits that the Oil and Gas industry has delivered to California. The report found that Oil & Gas industry "is a major employer and leading economic driver in California, responsible for 468,000 jobs in 2012, or 2.3 percent of California's employment." To quickly debunk this hubris, all you have to do is read the actual report and break down the numbers:
Employment (jobs): Direct (188,500), Indirect (102,280), and Induced (177,240)
TOTAL 468,000 (Percent of California Total Employment 2.3%)
Lumped into the 279,520 Indirect and Induced jobs are things like Wholesale and Retail Trade Brokers (100,960 jobs), Public Utility Jobs (33,350), Health & Social Services (33,270), Accommodation & Food Services (25,410), Finance and insurance (21,950), Real estate and rental (12,490), Arts, Educational services (7,980), entertainment and recreation (7,970), Ag, forestry, fish & hunting (1,430), and Other services (20,800). All of these jobs exist without the Oil and Gas industry. Perhaps the only real induced jobs are the jobs for "Waste Management" which they lump into an indirect/induced category titled: "Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services" which they claim roughly 24,020 jobs are created thanks to the Oil and Gas industry. Given the clustered title of various jobs---most of which would exist without the oil and gas industry---we can generously attribute ~12,000 indirect and induced jobs to the oil and gas industry. Those are jobs that are literally induced by the cluster bomb of toxic sludge, chemically infused waste water, and radioactive produced water that the industry creates on a daily basis.
The 188,500 Direct Jobs the industry is boasting consists of Private Utility Distribution (32,670), Dealers and Wholesalers (10,270), Refinery Jobs (12,760), Transportation (2,750), Construction (11,710), Gas Station Jobs (56,230), Petrochemical manufacturing (10), and Petroleum lubricating oil and grease manufacturing (700). However, these are jobs that are not really dependent on California's Oil and Gas industry. Gas Stations exist without California oil and gas production--in fact, the vast majorit of our gas station fuel comes from out of state. The refineries in California refine crudes from all over the world. The manufacturing employees are manufacturing products that have already been refined; they are not dealing with California crudes. Transportation, Dealing, Wholesaling, and Construction are not beholden to the oil and Gas industry; and the utilities will still exist in a 100% renewable energy world.
So, if we subtract these auxiliary jobs, we get something like this: Oil & gas extraction (45,840), Support activities for oil and gas operations (10,060), Oil & gas field machinery & equipment manufacturing (1,920), and Drilling oil & gas wells (3,620). This gives us a more realistic number of 61,440 direct jobs.
The industry claimed that they were responsible for the creation of 468,000 jobs. In reality, they have created 61,440 direct jobs and maybe 12,000 indirect jobs as of 2013---that's a grand total of 73,440 jobs. The WSPA and other industry lobbyists are going to use their inflated numbers to tout the economic benefits of oil & gas production. They will insist that the continuation of fracking will create innumerable jobs for unemployed Californians. In reality, the WSPA is full of shit and the numbers they tout are heinously inaccurate.
Of course, inflated and misleading job numbers are nothing new to the Oil and Gas industry. A six state study conducted last year found that the industry has a strong tendency to promise nearly eight times as many jobs than what they eventually create. "Between 2005 and 2012, less than four new shale-related jobs have been created for each new well. This figure stands in sharp contrast to the claims in some industry-financed studies, which have included estimates as high as 31 for the number of jobs created per well drilled." That's a difference of nearly 700% difference in job claims per well. "Employment estimates have been overstated, and the industry and its boosters have used inappropriate employment numbers, including equating new hires with new jobs and using ancillary job figures that largely have nothing to do with drilling, even after the flaws in those numbers have been brought to their attention."
Food For Thought: Given the industry's claim that they've been safely fracking in California for over 60 years; and given their claim that fracking creates jobs; with 60 years of so-called "fracking job creation", why has the oil and gas industry only managed to create 61,440 direct jobs in California?
The Core Clean Economy, as defined by Next10, "encompasses businesses that provide the products and services that allow the entire economy to transition away from fossil fuels and improve efficiencies in the use of all natural resources." This includes: Clean Energy Generation, Energy Efficiency, Clean Transportation, Energy Storage, Green Building, Clean Industrial Support, and Energy Infrastructure. "Employment in California’s Core Clean Economy has grown four times faster than the total state economy over the past ten years, reaching more than 176,000 jobs in January 2011."
The oil and gas industry has been fracking for over 60 years with 61,440 direct jobs to show for it. Taken together, clean energy has created 176,000 direct jobs in California. Even if we compare the industry claims of 188,000 direct jobs to the jobs that have been created by clean energy, clean energy wins out. If we extrapolate the clean energy job creation for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, with the same rate of economic growth that took place from 2010 to 2011, we find a total job creation of 180,250. So, given the fact that first mega-watt system ever installed in California debuted in 1982, it's fair to say, quantitatively, that we've been paneling for over 30 years with nearly the same amount of direct jobs that the industry loves to tout. In reality, using the more factually adjusted 61,440 direct jobs, it's fair to say that in roughly half the time, the Clean Energy industry has created nearly three times as many direct jobs in California than the fossil fuel industry. A transition to a 100% renewable energy future will only create more clean energy jobs.
It's easy to blind politicians with fanciful jobs numbers and economic benefits. It's even easier when the industry can hire firms to conduct reports to show the economic and job creation benefits of oil and gas operations. And of course, the endless campaign contributions, bribes and lobbying efforts makes it pretty easy to pay-to-frack in California. When they say they've been safely fracking in California for over 60 years; when they say they have followed the strictest code of conduct; and when they insist they have complied with regulations; it makes it very easy for the industry to fracture the common sense of our naive politicians.
The industry has complied with regulations, sure, but that's easy to do when there are no regulations to comply with. Their code of conduct is "profits before people" and "try not to get caught". So, when they say they've done it safely for 60 years, what they mean is: "Trust us, we have always done it safely. We promise." What is their definition of safety? More importantly, what deserves more attention, the baseless claims and arbitrary promises of a few big companies; or the very real and justified concerns of millions of Californians?
In roughly half the time, the Clean Energy industry has created nearly three times as many direct jobs in California than the fossil fuel industry. The problems that expanded fracking will bring to communities throughout California are real and well-documented. The threat that fracking brings to our climate is real. No amount of regulations can make fracking safe, and SB 4 is not the strictest regulations in the world. In a recent study conducted by the Center of Biological Diversity, CBD issued this statement in a press release: "In a letter to the governor, the Center pointed out that state regulators with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources have failed to disclose legally mandated reports for 47 frack jobs and notices for more than 100 uses of other risky oil production techniques. “This lack of disclosure underscores the failure of current regulations and the need for strong action that will protect public health and safety and the environment.”
The threats are real:
Earthquakes: It has been shown that fracking and waste-water injection can both induce earthquakes. Ohio, Oklahoma, and North East Texas were once home to some of the lowest rates of seismic activity. In Oklahoma, fracking and waste-water injection have caused a staggering spike in seismic events over the past few years. In California, we are the most seismically active state in the nation.
Contamination: There have been more than 100 proven cases of water contamination from fracking operations.
Proximity: Fracking and Acidizing operations are popping up next door to hospitals, schools and densely populated neighborhoods. Fumes from these operations have caused nearby residents to break out in rashes, experience nose bleeds and migraines, and cause respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular complications.
Methane: When leaking wells make up more than 1% to 2% of the fracking fleet, the leakage of methane during shale gas development makes fracked natural gas more carbon intensive than burning coal. The leakage rates nationwide have been measured to be a staggering 5.7% +/- 2.3%. In the Los Angeles basin, leakage has been measured to be somewhere around 17%---worse yet, in California, we are primarily fracking for oil, some of which is more carbon intensive than the Alberta Tar Sands.
Water: Modern Fracking uses copious amounts of fresh water to complete their fracking operations. Fracking, in it's new form, can use anywhere from 2 to 8 Million gallons of fresh water per frack. During a record setting drought in California, this is the last thing we should be using water for. For the moment, we aren't doing a large amount of fracking in California, relying on methods like cyclic steam injection and water flooding. So, as it stands today, we are using 100,000 to 300,000 gallons of water per well. However, as the WSPA admits, the onset of a fracking boom could easily change that.
From Boom To Bust
In California, the WSPA and the rest of the oil and gas industry likes to tout the already debunked USC job creation study that claims that a fracking boom in California would boost the state’s economic activity by 14.3 percent.
As Bloomberg reports, "such drilling in the Monterey Shale Formation, in addition to increasing per-capita gross domestic product, may add as much as $24.6 billion in state and local tax revenue and as many as 2.8 million jobs by 2020, according to the report released yesterday by the Los Angeles-based university."
That study had a lot to do with the pending "oil boom" in the Monterey Shale formation, which, at the time, was thought to have something like 15.7 Billion Barrels of oil reserves trapped inside of it. Of course, months later, that number was reduced to 13.7 Billion barrels of oil. That number, again, has taken a significant blow. News Flash: That number has been downgraded to 0.6 Billion Barrels of recoverable Monterey Shale Oil. "Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California's vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national "black gold mine" of petroleum." Writes the LA Times. "Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said."
Some Math: 600 Million barrels of recoverable Monterey Shale Oil is 25 times less than what was projected by the industry funded USC fracking jobs study. So, let's first divide that 2.8 Million jobs by 8 in order to properly anticipate industry job inflation; and then we'll divide by 25 to adequately adjust these numbers to reflect the shale reality of a 96% downgrade of oil reserves.
Calculation: (2.8 Million jobs) divided by (8) divided by (25) = 14,000 total jobs
Furthermore, these are jobs that champion a fatality rate that is seven times higher than all other workers in the United States. In fact, from 2007 to 2012, jobs in the oil and gas fields killed 664 workers, making oil and gas field jobs among the deadliest jobs in America.
So, do we want to let the oil and gas industry create 14,000 hazardous jobs over the next 6 years and create a minuscule economic boost at the expense of our environment, the climate, and public health? Or will our politicians hear the demands of the majority of Californians and put an end to fracking?
Last year, a poll found that 58% of California voters supported a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other forms of advanced well stimulation. A poll released earlier this week shows that 68% of California Voters support a moratorium on fracking, acidizing and other forms of unconventional well stimulation. That means that 24% of the people who didn't support a moratorium last year have experienced a change of heart on the issue. The study also found that 78% of California Democrats support a moratorium on fracking.
Vote YES on SB 1132: California Needs A Fracking Moratorium Now
The public's opinion on fracking has taken a monumental shift over the past few years and the anti-fracking movement in California is growing stronger by the day. The Democratic party's rank and file members have made their voices heard; and we will hold our elected officials accountable on this issue from here on out. The data is mounting and the evidence continues to unravel the veil of deception that the industry has cast over the real dangers of fracking. The environmental, climate and health concerns are real; the scientific evidence grows stronger by the day. The only thing that must change is the will of our elected leaders. Will they remain beholden to the oil and gas empire, blinded by the dark side of money, deception, and deceit? Or will they finally see past the illusion that has been cast over them, and finally represent the people they were elected to serve? One thing is for sure: The anti-fracking movement in California will continue to grow; we will ban fracking in our state.
"You do not measure the fruit of your action, you have to measure your obligation for action. You have to find out what's the right thing to do. THAT is your duty. Whether you win or lose is not the issue. The obligation is to do the right thing."
- Vandana Shiva