Historic drought shows California must phase out fracking sooner, and end oil & gas permits now, as industry uses too much water, say 315 elected officials
Culver City, Ventura Co., and San Luis Obispo show the way forward to achieve 100 percent clean energy
Nearly 95 percent of the state is experiencing a severe drought, which made Governor Newsom declare a drought emergency in 41 of California’s 58 counties. On June 18, Palm Springs set a daily record of 123 degrees. Southern California officials issued an ozone advisory and the hottest months of summer are yet to come. The climate crisis has set the stage for another season of devastating fires. Fields will have to be fallowed, freshwater ecosystems are facing catastrophe, and some communities must brace for water shortages.
Water access in the Golden State is under threat of becoming more limited for everyday use like drinking, sanitation, and agricultural needs. Yet the state allows oil and gas operations to rob Californians of this precious resource.
The California Chapter of Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA-California), a coalition of elected officials from across the state, say it’s time to stop the drilling and production of oil and gas to save our water for needed use.
“Oil and gas operations threaten the water supply, and damage the surrounding environment’s water quality through spills, and leaks. The right to water is every Californians’ right. Plus the state’s agricultural industry needs this life giving resource to feed America,” said Christian Brock, EOPA CEO, Air Force Major (rt.). “Water isubiquitous in oil and gas production and uses far too much water. Their operations should be phased out before our land turns to dust. Fracking must be stopped more rapidly than by 2024. On average oil and natural gas fracking uses more than 28 times the water it did 15 years ago.”
The process steals away up to 9.6 million gallons of water per well from farming and drinking sources that are at risk in arid states, like California, especially during drought.
The U.S. Geological Survey study published by the American Geophysical Union, showed that fracking can increase demand for groundwater by up to 30 percent in arid regions. On average, hydraulic fracturing requires an estimated2–5 million gallons of water per well.
“As the drought cripples our farmlands and stresses our water supply, oil operations pump night and day using water. Kern County is an agricultural community that the oil industry is crippling by overusing water and jeopardizing the health and safety of all who live here,” said Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio, EOPA California Co-Chair. “The more drilling, the more the industry fuels the drought, endangering one of America’s largest food sources.”
Water is used in drilling, pressure maintenance. processing – in all stages of production. Between 2000 and 2014 the average water used to drill a horizontal natural gas well increased from 177,000 gallons to 5.1 million gallons per well — enough water to fill more than seven Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The future is to rapidly phase out fossil fuels—
On June 17th, the Culver City council voted to phase out production and fully remediate the site in their portion of the Inglewood Oil Field within the next five years. Their vote included requirements to safely plug, and remediate all wells, and to protect both workers and communities as part of the just transition away from neighborhood oil drilling.
“Culver City has become an example for other municipalities to follow as they transition away from fossil fuels and embrace a clean energy economy,” said Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee, Air Force/CA Air National Guard Veteran. “It has taken the dedication and determination of community leaders who worked tirelessly to ensure oil industry workers would have a just transition and that we all can breathe cleaner air and raise our children in a healthy city.”
The Inglewood Oil Field is vast. It is the largest contiguous urban oil field in the U.S., with more than one million people living within five miles of the site. Jurisdiction over the Inglewood Oil Field is split between Culver City and Los Angeles County.
On average, the field produces 2.5 – 3.1 million barrels of oil yearly on about 1,100 acres. Approximately 10 percent (78 acres) is located within the limits of Culver City. Residents living near the wells have raised concerns for years about exposure to toxic chemicals and smog-forming gases. Families endure the air pollution, but suffer from poor health outcomes including heart and lung disease, leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, nervous system damage, birth defects, and premature death. The rate of asthma related emergency hospital visits in Baldwin Hills is 4.4 times greater than the LA County average.
“Last May marked two years that Culver City has been running on 100 percent renewable energy. We don’t need oil, we need a clean energy economy, and places for our kids to play and breathe fresh air. Culver City is proving that a just transition for industry workers can happen. We’re showing a way to a future that we all can embrace,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, former Culver City Mayor, California Senior Advisor of Elected Officials to Protect America
Culver City is a member of the Clean Power Alliance, a locally operated electricity provider serving Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
“Our community which is a low-income, farm worker, immigrant community has said no to continuing obsolete fossil fuel power plants. We said no to the natural gas-fired power plant on our ocean, and now have a hundred-megawatt clean energy storage. If we can stand up to the industry giants, why can’t the governor?” asked Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez Esq., California Leadership Council of Elected Officials to Protect America . “We all have a right to clean accessible water. He has to think about the children who grow up in these polluted areas. They must be given a future.”
Science tells us that our usage of fossil fuels has been fueling the climate crisis. While solar and wind are the cheapest sources of electricity in most of the world, gas remains the country’s largest fuel source for generating electricity.
Gas production is water intensive, adding to the state’s drought problem and the climate crisis. Accordingly, 42 California cities and counties have strongly discouraged or banned gas hookups in new buildings.
“We’ve enacted building codes to ensure gas is not used. Our city will soon run on 100 percent clean energy. Every city that takes these steps shows we don’t need fossil fuels,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, Elected Officials to Protect California Leadership Council. “Oil and gas operations pollute our air and steal our water. The governor needs to take action and ban all new oil and gas permits now, and accelerate a transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”
Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and 43 other cities have banned natural gas in all or most new buildings. These building codes require all electric heating and cooking because gas is an indoor air pollutant and a greenhouse gas contributor.
While California prides itself on being environmentally friendly, policies have shown that an addiction to fossil fuels is still very evident. It endangers the lives and livelihoods of the people of the Golden State.
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting our planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters.
EOPA is the only national organization mobilizing veterans who are lawmakers on the environment. We educate through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.
June 21, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ramona du Houx,
Elected Officials to Protect America