As protesters marched in front of the Ventura College Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, Jan. 8, tension was already in the air. A rally was held an hour before a scoping meeting for drafting an environmental impact report regarding hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. Most of the posters related to polluting groundwater to perform the controversial natural gas extraction process; there are numerous fracking wells in Ventura County.
The scoping meeting was conducted in hopes the public would address to the California Department of Conservation specific concerns, such as using nontoxic chemicals that could work in fracking rather than the toxic ones currently being used, a topic Supervisor Linda Parks, District 2, brought up. Other points included aesthetics, air quality, cultural resources, land use and planning, etc. As the meeting progressed, however, not only did many of the speakers simply express their frustrations rather than giving specifics to the Department of Conservation, but it was clear, based on what some of them were saying that there is some misinformation about what’s happened so far with regulating fracking and also about what Senate Bill 4, authored by State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and passed late last year, does and does not do. This week, we hope to clear up the misinformation by addressing specific comments heard at the scoping meeting. They are as follows:
Comment: We need a government website that tells us all of the chemicals being used in fracking and also where current as well as proposed fracking wells are located.
Clarification: California lawmakers are in the process of developing a website. In the meantime, Fracfocus.org has been and is currently the site state lawmakers use as a main fracking reference. It discloses both the wells and the chemicals.
Comment: Senate Bill 4 prevents local lawmakers from passing laws that would impose moratoriums on fracking.
Clarification: This is not true. The governor and local lawmakers can still pass laws regarding fracking, including moratoriums. Senate Bill 4 ended unregulated fracking and acidizing and imposed immediate safeguards, which went into effect on Jan. 1. They include groundwater testing before and after fracking; that neighbors within 1,500 feet of well or proposed well be notified; and that chemicals, well history and locations be disclosed online.
Comment: We still don’t know what chemicals are being used.
Clarification: Not necessarily true, if you know where to look. A list can be found here with the chemical names and their purposes in fracking: fracfocus.org/chemical-use/what-chemicals-are-used
To participate in and address specific fracking concerns during the scoping process, email SB4eir@conservation.ca.gov or mail Adele Lagomarsino, California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, 801 K St., MS 18-00, Sacramento, CA, 95814. For more information, call 916-322-1348 or go to www.conservation.ca.gov/dog/pages/index/aspx.