Rage for Justice Report - Episode 1 - Gov. Newsom Freezes Fracking
Is Jamie Court. I'm the president of consumer watchdog. And you're listening to consumer watchdog's podcast the rage for justice report. This is where we talk about. What been exposing confronting and changing always? Today we're lucky to have with with us. Kyle Farrar the Western program coordinator for FRAC Tracker Alliance and Liza Tucker Energy Director for consumer watchdog. Thanks thanks to you both. Hey thanks so much for having me on Kyle We had some big news this week out of governor newsom after A seminal report for it that Your data Broke the summer showing that state regulators. basically were issuing permits for all types of oil wells and particularly early for very high risk tactic Oil well drilling At a rate that was greater than Governor Brown's and we were expecting the governor newsome's administration Asian would slow down and that disclosure really changed policy in the state It got a governor newsom to freeze off racking permits and to reexamine examined some of the practices at the department in charge of Drilling and exploration in the state where the oil and gas wells that had been permit. The permitted in the state had been going through the roof. we use some really high energy very costly and very polluting techniques here in California to get at California's oil reserves and that's because because in California we have really dirty heavy crude it's tar. It's hard to get out of the ground. So they have to use very high energy techniques it takes a lot of input to get a little bit of output from California oil and so what was happening And under under newsom and from what we understand Behind NEWSOM SA- back is that the regulators here in California -fornia had had been increasing the number of permissively or granting for a number of techniques and that includes hydraulic Alec fracturing which is used in a number of other basins but is used here in California as well. People are very surprised to learn that California is affecting state a very big fracking state and the numbers just under newsome had doubled for the first six months while he was in office so so it wasn't just the fact wells so there's a number of other techniques that California uses to get all of this heavy tar heavy crude out of the ground. They they go through the process of boiling water which is incredibly energy-intensive takes a lot of energy to boil water and they inject millions of gallons of it into the oil and gas formations to push the oil around and to reduce the viscosity of the oil so that they're able to more easily pump it back up to the surface so the state had been increasing the number of these enhanced oil recovery wells. They weren't just increasing the number of these enhanced recovery wealth they're also increasing the number of production wells and so production wells are just wells that take oil out of the ground. They pump oil up and they work in tandem with these enhanced. Oil Recovery Wells that put water and steamed down into the formation so what we saw was a large increase over these first over the first six months of newsome's administration a large increase of the a number of wells permitted to do both these things to inject steam and to pull more oil out of the ground. And of of course governor Newsom said Liza that he didn't really know this was going on. And and that there was also a disclosure that that FRAC backtracking consumer watchdog made about why this was happening in terms of the conflicts of interest at the agency. Right we found a number something like eight regulators who were Invested in companies that they had either were regulating directly in some way or had decision making power over certain steps that those companies had to satisfy satisfy in order to get permission permits and all the rest of it and so that We expose that together. They held stock. They held stock yet. And some help were in very high positions and they held large quantities the stock like a hundred thousand dollars which is significant. I mean decisions you can make could could actually move the market and could actually affect your own steak. which is it's just unacceptable so that coupled with I think newsome was really surprised? That fracking permits were up more than one hundred three percent at that point in July and and I think we need to put some context which is that we are literally starting to scrape the barrel in California. I mean our oil. Production output has been slashed practically in half since the nineteen eighties. And that's because because and that's why we're having all of these very risky high-stakes techniques oil extraction because we're literally starting to scrape the barrel and of course we expect the agency that's approving these permits to you know be impartial be independent. I think what shocked the governor was that these they were invested in the company's literally Chevron Exxon the companies that were getting the permits one of them said Oh. I didn't realize it was anything wrong with that. They disclosed it on their disclosure forms that you found Liza and fortunately the governor shocked by this basically fired the head of this agency Dogar and the Fair Political Practices Commission after the complaint that you had filed on behalf of consumer watchdog open investigation into two two two of the regulators regulators. So as of July we basically had the governor pivoting and saying whoa wait a minute and at that moment from the numbers you just looked at it kyle. That was when we took a look at fracking from it's from July through November one and there was just a freeze on any of them being approved. So why don't you add a little bit about what now the governor has done though. This was great news for California as of June. Twenty eighth twenty nine. There has been a permit approved to FRAC and California and we had been continuously checking the data looking back to the looking onto the regulator re regulatory agency and submitting public record. I could re request to confirm that this was correct and we were able confirm that no California has not issued a permit since then and I think because interesting that right is. We're about to release those numbers in had checked with the agency and told them that's when the governor came up with his new announcement. The governor had three points and they cover They covered fracking the covered. I heard public often impacts and they covered. We're talking about Is High pressure steam injection. So this is a little known activity. There was happening in California. And according to many environmentalists and too many other watchdog groups and other researchers in the field field. This is that this is an activity that is very similar to fracking. They'd California had been doing. I've been allowing that the regulator. I've been allowing to happen without newsom. Knowing and the regulator was allowing these operators to inject steam theme into the ground at such high pressures that steam would actually break up the Monterey Shale which is the shale formation nation that. They're trying to recover oil from this heavy crude out of the shale rock and so they'd be injecting steam but such high pressures that it would not only break up the rock at the bottom of the well but it would push steam all the way to the surface and as a push steam all the way to the surface it would bring with it oil and other liquids that are in the formation. We call them. Brian's they are Very Salty old old seabeds. That are down there so What is coming to what was coming to the surface? And this isn't isn't through the wells this is just seeping to the surface and we call them. CPS is our oil and Brian's and and what was happening is it was causing expressions of oil at the surface so massive oil spills and this was. This was the big famous league that we just saw these. Where was that in where in Bakersfield mark? Yeah in Bakersfield Acre acres and Liza requested surface expressions from the agency for many years and I had and they finally did put something on their website but it doesn't indicate which operators own which of these wells in which fields so they don't WanNa be entirely transparent because then it would be you too easy to figure out which of the oil operators are the most culpable entertain their pollution. And I think that's that's the key thing because newsome has basically so you put a moratorium on this is going to do some independent reviews on this from Lawrence livermore labs and one other agency. So it's not just these self interested. Regulators are used to giving the industry what it wants and then he's examining How to regulate oil wells that are too close to homes because if they're within twenty five hundred feet of a home a well L. A. Person? That's a big dangerous car. We've seen a lot of health impacts there. Yeah we absolutely have We know that the emissions from oil oil and gas wells include carcinogens and other air toxics that epidemiological research of into this point has shown shown results in congenital birth defects increased asthma rapes Other forms of COPD eighty and acute pulmonary disorders as well as As well as a rashes and other nervous system disorders orders Including cancer so being close to an oil and gas well puts you at an elevated risk for all of these as health impacts and here in California we have communities living the closest to oil and gas fields and there there are wells located throughout community is right next to homes all through Los Angeles all through the Central Valley and of course consumer watch or part of five five hundred groups who the buyer this last chance alliance that had wanted to get governor Brown. Put a moratorium on all drilling. You know we've slowed not just you know obviously obviously frozen fracking but we've also slowed the rate of overall well permanent in the last six months. It's still above browns for the year but obviously the governor took notice of the disclosures And he's trying to reverse course it's a ship. That's hard and can't turn really equipment. We put up newsom awesome. WELL WATCH DOT COM. People can go to newsom well watch dot com and find the oil wells near their neighborhoods or near their neighborhoods but everywhere. That governor Brown newsom has approved them in the state you can find their wells and you can also find the approval rate and he is just a little above brown and a couple of categories because the last six months he slowed down this really. We almost automatic approval process. I think that by the end of the year we will be below Brown like A. C. and hopefully we continue to decrease from their thanks. Kyle really appreciate you being on. Thanks Lisa again Thanks for joining us this week. On the range for justice. report consumer watchdog's PODCAST. This this is where we talk about what we've been exposing confronting changing subscribe to consumer watchdog trade for Justice Report Stitcher. Google play soundcloud. Thanks for joining us. Is Jamie court president consumer watchdog.