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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 1:48 am | Fair 45º


Dave Quast: Federal Study Finds No Adverse Environmental Impacts from Offshore Fracking

The Environmental Defense Center (EDC), a Santa Barbara activist group focused primarily on the environmental protection of California’s majestic Central Coast, is none too happy with a draft study by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on the safety of offshore well-stimulation treatments, most notably hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Dave Quast
Dave Quast

You see, these federal bureaus, which are part of the Interior Department, found no adverse environmental impacts from fracking and/or acid well-stimulations.

This is what is traditionally known as “good news.” But instead of being happy that it was wrong about “fracking” and “acidizing” — words that sound scary but are simply descriptions of routine oilfield processes — the EDC has provided the latest example of “environmental” activist groups being upset about good news for the environment, news the EDC sought out as part of a lawsuit settlement agreement.

The federal report compared potential impacts from well-stimulation treatments and evaluated alternatives across a range of potential impacts — from air quality to environmental justice — and it found the following:

» Air quality: “No noticeable well-stimulation treatment-related impacts on regional air quality expected. Negligible emission of greenhouse gases.”

» Water quality: “No well-stimulation treatment-related impacts expected, although slight localized reduction in water quality at surface water discharge location.”

» Induced seismicity (earthquakes): “Low potential for induced seismicity.”

» Benthic resources: “No well-stimulation treatment-related impacts expected.”

» Marine and coastal fish; sea turtles, marine and coastal birds, marine mammals: “No well-stimulation treatment-related impacts expected; potential for subtle toxic effects in some species from WST chemicals occurring within the NPDES discharge mixing zone ...”

» Commercial and recreational fisheries: “No well-stimulation treatment-related impacts expected.”

» Areas of special concern, recreation and tourism, archaeological resources, environmental justice: “No well-stimulation treatment-related impacts expected.”

» Socioeconomics: “No well-stimulation treatment-related impacts or benefits expected.”

This is, of course, great news for residents Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties, and, indeed, for all of Californians and visitors to our beautiful state.

That the news was greeted with skepticism from an activist group should come as no surprise. No matter what the source — state or federal government, leading academic institutions, or the industry itself — scientific research that repeatedly and unambiguously shows that hydraulic fracturing is fundamentally safe with manageable risks (and also protective of the environment) does nothing to keep people scared.

It’s hard to pay for those lawsuits without scared contributors. And just in case you thought EDC was really concerned about the safety of fracking, and that it would be happy if it was (once again) found to be safe, they give the game away:

“(T)here is no place these well-stimulation techniques should take place, not on land or in our ocean.”

So it turns out that EDC is not really concerned about the safety of fracking; it is in fact another extreme activist group that wants to ban the production of oil and gas — one of the backbones of California’s economy, responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs — entirely. 

— Dave Quast is California director of Energy In Depth. The opinions expressed are his own.

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