By Andrew Grinberg, Oil and Gas Program Coordinator
Click here to read part 2
Fracking – maybe you’ve heard of it? From exemptions to environmental regulations to contaminating our water, air, and communities to an Oscar-nominated documentary and a sequel, fracking has dominated our debate about fossil fuels lately. Here’s the thing – while we’ve (rightly) been debating fracking, other potentially equally risky forms of fossil fuel extraction are being used. And we don’t know much about them.
Fracking’s lesser-known cousin, acidization may be the process that actually unlocks the 15 billion barrels of oil in the Monterey Shale in California. Acidizing is exactly what it sounds like – injecting high volumes of hydrochloric or hydrofluoric acid into oil or gas wells. This process corrodes the shale to form new pathways for oil or gas to flow into the well. While hydraulic fracturing and acidization are both “well stimulation” techniques, fracking is the only process we’re developing regulations for right now. This needs to change. Luckily, we have a champion in the California State Senate.
On June 18, State Senator Fran Pavley, chair of Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee held an informational hearing on well stimulation with a focus on the use of acid in California oil and gas production. The hearing featured panelists from the State’s regulatory agencies, industry representatives and environmental advocates, including us. What we learned isn’t great.
The main takeaway is that we have very little information or control over the use of these potentially dangerous “well-stimulation” techniques. The public, our lawmakers and regulators, are in the dark about what the oil industry is doing. We simply don’t know what threats their operations pose, yet our federal government subsidizes fossil fuel production to the tune of $4 billion a year. It’s pretty far fetched that us taxpayers have been stuffing Big Oil’s pockets for the last century, yet don’t receive any commonsense protections., Public scrutiny on fracking, however, has begun to open the door for greater accountability. It might even be cracking the veil of secrecy that has allowed oil production to occur with inadequate oversight in California for the last 100 years.
Learn more about acid well stimulation and what we are doing about it – click here