An anticipated oil boom in California may be delayed a bit, if it happens at all. New estimates published today could damped the state’s fracking future.
Fracking is an oil extraction process that involves pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into rock. It had been estimated California may be able to recover more than 13 billion barrels of Monterey Shale oil.
But The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. Energy Information Administration now estimates 96 percent of the oil would be unreachable with available technology. That would leave access to only 600 million barrels. But even that’s too much for Kassie Siegel, with the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We’re talking about investing in extreme and ever more damaging forms of fossil fuel development that just keep us addicted to oil and undercut renewable energy and that transition to a clean energy economy," Siegel says.
Sabrina Lockhart is with Californians for a Safe, Secure Energy Future which supports fracking. She stresses the EIA report only provides estimates on the amount of recoverable oil. She says advances in technology could allow the state to access the oil.
“California has the potential to become energy independent with or without these estimates. We have the safest standards in the nation and the demand for oil isn’t going to disappear overnight," she says. "And so, while we work toward using alternative fuels, it makes sense that we produce oil here where we can do it safely and affordably.”
Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins says the state cannot take an all-or-nothing approach.
“We are going to have to strike a balance in terms of how to protect the environment, deal with the concerns, the public safety and health concerns that people may have," she says. "And also, continuing to make sure that we have oil. We are dependent on it.”
Governor Jerry Brown signed fracking regulations into law last year. Another bill that would impose a moratorium on fracking is being considered now in the legislature.