News broke this weekend that oil companies are fracking old wells off the Santa Barbara and Ventura County coastlines. Let's shut that right down, please.
August 6, 2013


This Ventura County resident says "Don't frack with me." Or around me, or near me, or in my coastal waters. When news broke this weekend that fracking was taking place in federal waters around Santa Barbara and a new project just approved in Ventura County, I saw red. Bright, garish, angry red.

Via the Ventura County Star, the lamest EPA statement ever:

In a statement to the AP, the EPA defended its oversight of offshore fracking, saying its system ensures the practice does not pollute the environment in a way that would endanger human health. Oil companies must obtain permits for wastewater and storm water discharges from production platforms that "ensure all fluids used in the drilling and production process will not adversely impact water quality," the statement said.

Got that, folks? Humans are safe. Never mind sea life, or coral, or kelp. I wonder if that EPA administrator knows that Santa Barbara has kelp beds that help nourish and sustain the remaining 3,000 sea otters in west coast waters? Why are there only 3,000 of them? Because oil spills kill them. What do you think fracking might do to them?

Fracking permits have been issued by the federal government. Ordinarily, state regulators would have the opportunity to object and block fracking, even if it takes place in federal waters, but it seems these permits were approved without notifying state regulators ahead of time. The most recent one was approved in March of this year.

In March, a privately held oil and gas company received permission from the agency to frack some 10 miles off the Ventura County coast. The job by DCOR LLC involves using the existing wellbore of an old well to drill a new well. Three so-called "mini-fracks" will be done in an attempt to release oil locked within sand and rocks in the Upper Repetto formation.

Only a month before the application was approved, however, an official with the BSEE voiced concerns about the company's proposed frack and whether the operation would discharge chemicals into the ocean.

Evidently EPA regulators don't really care much about water quality, or at least, don't seem to question whether letting all those fracking fluids loose in the Pacific might have much impact on an area which has already been devastated:

The targets are the vast oil fields in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a 1969 spill that spewed more than 3 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean, spoiled miles of beaches and killed thousands of birds and other wildlife. The disaster prompted a moratorium on new drill leases and inspired federal clean water laws and the modern environmental movement.

Companies are doing the offshore fracking — which involves pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of salt water, sand and chemicals into undersea shale and sand formations — to stimulate old existing wells into new oil production.

Federal regulators thus far have exempted the chemical fluids used in offshore fracking from the nation's clean water laws, allowing companies to release fracking fluid into the sea without filing a separate environmental impact report or statement looking at the possible effects. That exemption was affirmed this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the internal emails reviewed by the AP.

The greed is just amazing. Ok, not amazing, but horrible anyway. By going back to re-plumb old wells with toxic chemicals, these oil companies are perfectly fine with destroying an already-challenged ocean ecosystem (think radiation and climate change) in order to suck a few extra drops of oil out of wells which went dry years ago.

Wake up, EPA and figure this one out. Clean water is a critical part of survival. It's far more critical than whether we can burn a bit more oil, and by the time someone is poisoned with these untested and unstudied chemicals and techniques, it will be past too late.

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