PR: Historic heat waves and drought

Historic heat waves and drought shows California must phase out fracking sooner, and end oil & gas permits now, as industry uses too much water, say 315 elected officials

315 elected officials say Gov. Newsmon must declare climate emergency for CA to save our water from oil and gas industry

A predicted heat wave will hit for the 4th of July weekend, while 95 percent of the state is experiencing a severe drought. Governor Newsom has already declared a drought emergency in 41 of California’s 58 counties. Daily records of triple digit temperatures are being made. All this adds sets the stage for another season of devastating fires, because of the human made climate crisis. The stress on the grid might force rolling blackouts.

Water access in the Golden State is under threat of becoming more limited for everyday use like drinking, sanitation, and agricultural needs. Fields will have to be fallowed, freshwater ecosystems are facing catastrophe, and communities are bracing for water shortages. The current drought has outpaced the state’s devastating 2012-16 drought which left some residents having to rely on water trucks to bring in water in Kern County.

Yet the state allows oil and gas operations to rob Californians of this precious resource. Water usage is ubiquitous in oil and gas production.

The California Chapter of Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA California), a coalition of 315 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. 

“Last year, Governor Newsom was rightfully horrified by the devastating fires and said that we are in a climate emergency. It’s time he put the power of his office behind his words and take this opportunity to declare a climate emergency for the state of California,” said Nicole Twohig-Chamberlin, EOPA California. “We need action to save our water resources for our people, agriculture, and to fight fires. Limiting oil and gas production right now, will ease the pressure on our water supplies. The governor should take this opportunity and issue an executive order declaring the climate emergency, and immediately stop any more permits being issued.”

The pattern over the past year has been for fracking permits to be issued prior to major holidays. EOPA California thinks that pattern will be repeated again before this 4th of July. 

“On the verge of the 4th of July weekend, in the midst of an historic drought and continuing heat waves, we need to declare independence from the oil and gas industry. Their operations threaten our water supply, and damage the surrounding environment’s water quality through spills, and leaks. The right to water is every Californians’ right. The state’s agricultural industry needs this life giving resource to feed America,” said Christian Brock, EOPA CEO, Air Force Major (rt.). “The human cost to our health has to be seen as a reality that we have the power to stop. Fracking must be stopped more rapidly than by 2024. Their operations should be phased out before our land turns to dust.” 

On average oil and natural gas fracking uses more than 28 times the water it did 15 years ago.

“The governor has listed 2045 as the date oil will be phased out. Families already suffer disproportionate illnesses like cancer, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Thousands of children under age 5 die each year due to respiratory infections attributed to fossil fuel pollution. Our children wake up in the night screaming from nosebleeds and find they’re short of breath,” said Firebaugh Councilmember Felipe Perez, EOPA California Leadership Council. “These environmental injustices must stop. Governor Newsom can, at the very least, use his executive powers to stop issuing new permits, and accelerate the transition to 100 percent clean energy. 2045 will be too late for far too many.”

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 estimated 2–5 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.

“For far too long my community has had to breathe in air that affluent neighborhoods wouldn’t put up with. We’re all equal in America. It’s time those who can lead do so. It’s time that they stand up for those whose voices have been muted by the influence of oil and gas corporations. We feed the world from Kern county. The Latinx community matters,” said Delano Councilmember Salvador Solorio-Ruiz, of Kern County, EOPA California Leadership Council. 

The future is to rapidly phase out fossil fuels—

Science tells us that human activities using fossil fuels literally fuels the climate crisis. We can stop. 

While solar and wind power 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. Every city that takes these steps shows we don’t need fossil fuels,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, EOPA California Leadership Council Co-Chair. “Oil and gas operations pollute our air and steal our water. I believe Governor Newsom cares about the climate crisis and wants to help. He can, the first step is for him to declare a climate emergency. Then he can take action and ban all new oil and gas permits, and accelerate a transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.” 

Oakland, San FranciscoSan 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. 

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.

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June 29, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Ramona du Houx,
Communications Director
Elected Officials to Protect America
Cell: 207.319.4727

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