what the frack, santa barbara?
Just off the Santa Barbara coast, trouble brews for all of us who love this area for its beauty and scenic coastlines. Those who have, professionally, sworn to protect our economic and environmental balance are choosing not to. The chance of great profit, dangling in front of our law makers, has temporarily confused them.
The online publication TruthOut revealed on October 10th that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has granted permission to the oil company DCOR to commence fracking the Santa Barbara channel -- WITHOUT any environmental review. The plan's approval allows DCOR to start injecting a highly pressurized concoction of chemicals, sand and water into a well 1,500 feet away from a seismic fault under the Santa Barbara channel. They tell us that this is perfectly safe. Common sense tells us that it is not.
Anyone who has read up on fracking knows that the exact ingredients of this concoction is an industry secret and is not shared with the general public. Furthermore, spills have happened and continue to happen, and groundwater has been affected, as documented by a myriad of sources. So what happens to our precious, and already polluted, marine environment and critters when proprietary chemicals are injected into the ocean floor? Do we really believe that crustaceans, and the creatures that eat them, are not going to be affected? Folks, we all live on seafood in this town. Are we not also considering the impacts on the human body?
This is a fraccident waiting to happen. Not to mention the possibility of triggering the seismic fault. As recent events showcase, tsunamis are no laughing matter.
Sadly, fracking in California waters is nothing new. According to interviews and drilling records obtained by the Associated Press, there have been more than 200 instances of fracking in at least 6 locations in California waters during the last 15 years. In the meantime, the California oil permitting agency says that it does not track fracking operations, and California state government officials apparently knew nothing about ongoing fracking activities, because they fell between permitting guidelines.
In addition, neither state nor federal regulators have had any oversight into this practice.
“We still need to sort out what authority, if any, we have over fracking operations in state waters; it’s very complicated.”
Alison Dettmer - Deputy Director of the California Coastal Commission.1
In 2014, a law takes effect that requires the disclosure of the exact chemical agents used during the fracking process -- but only the disclosure. An official at the International Association of Drilling Contractors gives us even more reason to rest assured: “Our position is that [offshore fracking is] safe and effective. It’s just like they’re out there in Kansas, except there’s an ocean on top.” 2
Our hope for preservation and conservation rests with organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which intends to take legal action against the involved agencies in order to force a suspension of fracking operations off the Santa Barbara coastline. It is also upon us who care more for the environment -- more than cheap energy prices -- to be aware, to spread the word, and to educate others about the inherent dangers of using unproven technologies and undisclosed chemicals in our marine habitats.
Do one thing today to educate yourself and tell someone in your life that may care about this topic.
Write us if you have ideas for improving local awareness about environmental issues such as this. Clean business is very possible, but it takes refined communication and collaboration to build momentum and maintain a voice loud enough for the larger populace to respond to. Unite, act, be yourself.