This month California authorities issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies practicing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas in the state, to stop them from injecting their fracking wastewater at 11 particular sites, on grounds of likely causing pollution of the groundwater there. Kern County drinking water is threatened. The July 7 order was issued by the California Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources, which also ordered a review of more than 100 other fracking wastewater injection sites in the Central Valley.
The order was an emergency measure, stating that wastewater injection at the 11 sites "poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources." Little to no regulation has been in place in the state on wastewater disposal. The new emergency order was first made public by the Bakersfield Californian, and since included in a national update report on fracking water contamination of aquifers, posted July 18 by Abrahm Lustgarten, of the ProPublica group.
The California move is the latest of many state and local rearguard actions against harmful impacts of fracking for gas and oil, which, on principle, is manifestly a retrograde energy mode, relative to nuclear power. On the fracking wastewater aspect in particular, there is also earthquake propensity.
Consider what is involved in adding the heavy pressure of a significant amount of water under certain kinds of soil and rock conditions. Engineers well know, for example, that the fill-up of a new reservoir behind a new dam, can constitute the potential for causing shallow earthquakes. Such tremblors may be mild and non-repetitive geo-events, but all contingencies must be taken into account.
However, in Obama's Fracking Boom, anything goes. Geologists warn that current patterns of injecting fracking waste fluids in play in Oklahoma and Ohio are resulting in earthquakes, danger and contamination.
The Obama Administration agencies not only remain hands-off doing anything about this, but are going further. They are promoting loony-tunes "solutions" for wastewater! All the while, the Obama agencies—EPA, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Energy, Department of State—continue to promote fracking as transforming the U.S. into the "new world energy superpower."
Solar Powered Desalination for Fracking Waste
In Texas this month, a new test project came online, funded by the Bureau of Reclamation, for solar-powered treatment of brackish water, in order to allow still more fracking, as well as drinking water, amidst the fierce drought. The $3.5 million facility is an evaporative desal unit in Mentone in Loving County, in one of the the Permian Basin shale oil and gas formations. (Loving County is the least populated of all 3,000 counties in the U.S., with fewer than 100 permanent residents.)
The project engineer, James Busby, said,
"For produced or frack water, a process like this could produce water for re-use in the oil field." He told desalination.biz.news, July 7 that the technology is "capable of treating brackish groundwater, produced water, and frack water."
The Texas project is one of several low-tech Western water projects funded in part under the Obama Administration's "WaterSMART" program (Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow), set up in February, 2010, under the Bureau of Reclamation, to promote conservation, and green "decisions" in Western water basins, per the SECURE Water Act, which became law on March 30, 2009, and is premised on the deadly British imperial climate change hokum.