On Tuesday, Sept. 23, 3pm, County Board of Supervisors agenda item #30, report on hydraulic fracturing and staff recommendation, was presented to the BOS by the Planning and Building Department.
This agenda item was in response to the presentation of over 5,000 signatures from the San Luis Obispo community at large on May 20th calling on the BOS to adopt a countywide ban on hydraulic fracturing for the safety, health, environmental and economic well being of the community.
The Board instructed staff to prepare a report they would use for their response to our petition. Staff instructed to provide Board with;
- What is hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking)?
- What is the fracking potential in the County?
- What are the existing and proposed regulations relating to fracking?
- What are some of the important environmental issues?
- What is happening in other jurisdictions?
The report was 4 months in the making.
The chamber was nearly packed. A lot of suits in the room I had not seen before. The presentation took about 20 minutes and was preferenced with what the report WILL and WILL NOT focus on. Hydraulic fracturing is the focus and cyclic steam stimulation, waterflood injection, steam flood injection, acid well stimulation, matrix acidization, and well acidization WILL NOT be discussed.
The term hydraulic fracturing aka fracking has up and until this point and as part of the definition of what fracking is included well stimulation techniques in which high-pressure fluid is injected into a wellbore. The fracking technique is commonly applied to wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil. The industry claims hydraulic fracturing has been in use in California for over 60 years.
Since 1978 high-pressure steam injection and cyclic steam injection has been the primary method of extraction at the Arroyo Grande Oil Fields, AGOF. The AGOF is on the Monterey Shale, tight oil, asphalt grade oil is being extracted.
Freeport makes the claim it is not hydraulic fracturing and has no plans to do so. That is not to say they won’t if the needs suits them and more than likely given the new patent protected, water intensive, earthquake generating technology unencumbered by cost prohibitive safety and environmental laws and funded yearly by billions of taxpayers dollars, the odds are they will use every loophole handed to them on a silver platter and frack the last drop of oil right out from underneath our feet without so much as a mother may I.
And if the oil industry were held to the same standards as all other businesses operating within our jurisdiction hydraulic fracturing, cyclical steam injection, acidizating, high intensity, unconventional, processes would be a crime in violation of the Clean Air, Clean water, Safe drinking water Act and the Community right to know Act. But because they are not held to the same standards and are granted special dispensation VIA the Halliburton loophole to operate independent of the law, the community as it is represented by its governing board, knowingly assumes all the risks and bears all the burden of the industry’s activity to include spills, explosions, fires, leaks, accidents and unintended consequences.
It would be fair to ask at this point that if Freeport has
no intention of fracking why are they so concerned then with a ban?
Public comment followed the presentation. There were 52 requests to speak. And in the interest of time, Mr. Gibson offered the following format. One minute, two minute and three minute speakers starting with one-minute speakers. When all the one-minute speakers are finished the next round of speakers will have two minutes and lastly those remaining to speak for 3 minutes will be called from the remaining speaker’s slips.
With this format everyone is allowed to speak. Very curious why this format was not offered at the May 20th meeting as time was also a factor.
There was not a single speaker from the Freeport constituency at the May 20th meeting. This meeting however was teeming with very important, high ranking, titles and letters behind their name, persons. Almost like royalty. They seemed to own the room. The impression was somehow their presence projected a sense of greater importance than usual on these proceedings and worthy of special consideration, in the interest of fairness, of course.
The Board seemed duly intimidated and oddly attentive to the sheer power and force mingling amongst the rank and file and perhaps instinctively knew that limiting this crowd to 5 people and 15 minutes was not an option.
I am just hazarding a guess here and it may not be significant but it seemed at least 20 of the speakers from Freeport were there as paid employees working on company time. Just comparing loyalty factors here and what motivates people to get involved in local politics. I took time off work. Judy J got out of a sick bed, David K gave up study time. Just saying.
I waited to be called for the 3-minute segment about an hour and half into the meeting. I took the last stand on principle, appealing to the board to do the right thing and ban fracking. Foreseeing they might use staff time and expense as an excuse to delay writing a resolution I submitted a draft for their consideration, attached.
Listened to the other speakers but then had to take a breather and headed out to the lobby. I left my purse indicating, I hope, that I would be back. I took my water bottle and headed out. There were monitors in the lobby so I could still follow the proceedings. When the speakers finished and the Board was going to make a ruling I elected to remain in the lobby.
And then something rather odd happened. A man came out looking for me to tell me my keys had somehow got kicked out of my purse into the aisle and I might want to return to retrieve them. And then as if his Good Samaritan act needed justification added he had observed that I often retreat to the lobby so he knew where to find me. That was very odd since this was the first time I choose to leave and wait outside chambers. I thanked him and returned in time to hear the Board’s decision.
One by one the Board rendered their reasoning and voted unanimously 5-0 to ignore the beseeching petitioners, community members, organizations and municipalities and do nothing. Wait. Too many other more important things to do. Let’s wait and see what the State does with fracking, was their rationale.
Our health, safety, well-being and immediate concerns and fears about water and earthquakes summarily dismissed as unimportant. Clearly the Board regards approving a permit to drill 450 oil wells in our backyard as more important than our immediate need to get inoculated against the ravishes of the greed disease.
And no my keys were not in the aisle.
And yes there is more to come.
But first, Please, please try to find an hour or two somewhere to help Santa Barbara get Measure P passed. I will send how we can help and all the information immediately in a follow up email.
Ah, I can feel it, Can you feel it? All the good vibrations? The cosmos are conspiring to shower us with abundance.
Here is a link to the whole BOS meeting so you can judge for yourself. http://slocounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1875
Item # 30 starts at 3:00 on the tape.
Have a spectacular week!!!
SLO Clean Water Action.org
Change doesn’t just happen. It starts with an ultimatum and goes from there.
Approving Freeport would increase their water usage by 300% in a phase III drought alert where everyone is mandated to cut back by 20%. The water is coming from a well taped into the groundwater. On that issue only fracking should be ban in SLO County. Freeport McRanRo Arroyo Grande Oil Fields usage would amount to over 8 billion gallons of water. How is this o.k? It would be criminal if there was a law against it. But alas our lawmakers are opposed to criminalize using water to manufacturer a toxic waste that is hazardous to every living thing it comes in contact with.