Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Will California's Shale Oil Boom Go Bust? Will California's Shale Oil Boom Go Bust?

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Energy

Will California's Shale Oil Boom Go Bust?

A natural gas well pad in front of the Roan Plateau near Rifle, Co.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

April 4, 2013

You might expect California, home to vast, untapped reserves of shale oil and a powerful environmental movement, to watch closely every move by its oil and gas industry. But when it comes to the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used to extract oil and gas from shale, regulators have remarkably little idea what is going on.

This Friday, April 5, air quality regulators in southern California will consider approving a rule requiring oil and gas companies to notify authorities before drilling and report air pollutants emitted during extraction. Drillers must also disclose the chemicals used in fracking fluid, which is injected into wells at high pressure to break up rock formations that contain oil and natural gas.

“Communities will start to get a sense of what type of impacts these operations are having on folks who live near drilling and fracking,” says Damon Nagami, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Santa Monica, California. “This is information we just don’t have right now.”

 



Latest from Quartz:
Loading feed...

The California Department of Conservation, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, is also set to begin drafting regulations that would impose similar, if weaker, disclosure requirements on drillers, though companies could claim trade secret protection for fracking fluids. And at last count, half a dozen bills have been introduced in the California legislature to impose restrictions on fracking.

California has a well-deserved reputation for setting the pace for environmental regulation. The Obama administration’s proposal last week to slash vehicle tailpipe emissions, for instance, mirrors California’s standards. But in fracking it has lagged. Though California is the country’s fourth-largest oil producer, and its Monterey Shale formation holds an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of oil or 64% of the nation’s shale oil reserves, the oil industry has not been in a rush to head west. It has focused instead on more geologically accessible shale formations like the Marcellus in the Northeast of the U.S., Eagle Ford in the Southeast and the Bakken in the Rocky Mountains. While some exploratory wells have been drilled in the Monterey formation, the oil is harder to reach.

Still, a study released in March by the University of Southern California concluded that a Monterey Shale oil boom could create 512,000 to 2.8 million jobs between 2015 and 2020 and add $25 billion to the coffers of a state still reeling from the economic downturn. And the governor, Jerry Brown appears to have those numbers in mind: He has said the state needs to balance oil production and the jobs and revenues it generates with environmental protection.

The oil industry itself has so far kept a relatively low profile in the fracking debate. It no doubt remembers the shellacking it took in the 2010 elections, when Texas petroleum companies tried to prevent sharp cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by bankrolling a ballot measure, and California voters overwhelmingly rejected it.

Oil trade groups have urged the air-quality regulators to forgo new rules and work collaboratively with the industry to collect fracking data instead. But with a gusher of regulations in the works, that strategy is likely to hit a dry well.

LIKE THIS STORY? Sign up for Energy Edge

Sign up for our daily newsletter and stay on top of energy coverage.

Sign up form for Energy Edge
Job Board
Search Jobs
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Structural Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | New Haven, CT
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Quality Systems Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Greensboro, NC
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
Senior Water Resource Project Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Fairfax, VA
Civil Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Steamboat Springs, CO
Entry Level Geotechnical Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Albany, NY
Sales Engineer-Process Automation/Instrumentation
American Society of Civil Engineers
Senior Project Manager- Transportation
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Antonio, TX
Materials Engineer 2
American Society of Civil Engineers | IL
Land Surveyor
American Society of Civil Engineers
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus