This is one of those good new/bad news stories, like seeing your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand new Lexus. IHS Cambridge Energy Research has discovered 400 billion barrels of oil in California, an amount equal to half of the oil under the sands of Saudi Arabia, and far larger than the Bakken Formation in North Dakota or the Eagle Ford Formation in Texas.
It’ll be harder to extract because of how the shale oil is caught between folds of the earth’s crust, rather than sandwiched in layers in North Dakota and Texas. But several oil companies are investing in the possibilities and if they are successful (and left alone by environmentalists in Sacramento) the revenues could “solve the state’s budget crisis” all by itself, according to Katie Potter, a recruiter for oil field personnel at NES Global Talent. And just last month, 18,000 acres were offered to be leased out for initial drilling and “they were all snapped up” right away.
But the real problem will be, inevitably, Sacramento, the capitol city in the land of sunshine, fruits and nuts, especially enviros who never saw a drilling rig they liked. They especially won’t like how the oil will need to extracted because of the folds in the earth’s crust: instead of using fracking which involves water and sand and some chemicals, the process in California will involve hydrofluoric acid.
You can take it from here. Fracking has been accused of contaminating ground water (see Matt Damon’s Promised Land) and more. Wait until you hear the shrieking about acid being used to extract oil! In California acid is for dropping, not for extracting.
And then there’s pollution from all the machinery, and the heavy equipment creating dust storms, and road congestion, and…
It already has the attention of the Sierra Club:
Fracking could still become an issue, as it has in other states where it’s led to fears over groundwater contamination, said Nathan Matthews, a Sierra Club attorney based in San Francisco. And there’s no guarantee acid injection is much better.
So close and yet so far.