Carson, California city council imposed a 45 day moratorium on fracking. The Los Angeles County city council of Carson, California voted unanimously for a 45 day moratorium on new gas and oil permits.
The move proved a setback for Occidental Petroleum. The company wanted more than 200 permits in the coming year to drill new wells. The city council’s move is the latest stand by local governments to hinder fracking in their communities.
In 2012, Occidental Petroleum presented a plan to drill in the Dominquez Oil Field located in the Carson area. The plan was to use hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking, to tap an estimated 52 million barrels that could not be extracted by conventional means of oil exploration. Fracking involves the injection of vast quantities of water, sand, and chemicals at high pressure to break apart rock in order to separate it from the gas and oil. Fracking has spawned an energy boom across the US.
When two test wells operating in the area demonstrated that fracking would not increase overall production, Occidental representatives withdrew their fracking recommendation from the project. Despite the new drilling arrangement, the five members of the city council approved the 45-day moratorium, granting the city of Carson more time to consider further regulations.
Albert Robles, a council member who most favored the delay, cited too many questions and concerns about fracking. The environmental and social consequences far outweighed any possible benefits for the community. After a 45 days to further study the impact of fracking and other forms of oil and gas exploration, the city council may extend the moratorium to a full year.
City council members imposing a 45-day moratorium on fracking objected to the impact such drilling would have on the community’s water and air quality. There were also concerns about towns across the country that did undertake fracking without exploring the social impact.
Outside of tax revenues increasing, none have been able to absorb the sudden jump in population. Skilled workers head to the oil fields for better paying jobs, forcing local businesses to pay higher wages to attract employees for less skilled jobs. Housing prices in the community jump leaving new workers paying inflated prices for housing or the right to rent out a parcel of land to pitch a tent, camper, or park an RV vehicle. Communities that have undertaken fracking as a full scale operation experience increases in crime, illegal gambling, and prostitution.
Environmental groups that rallied outside Carson City Hall prior to the vote expressed their own concerns. Their goal was to have the city council ban all new gas and oil production in the Dominquez Oil Field.
Zack Malitz of Credo, an environmentalist group, has found a way to hinder fracking by pressuring local governments. He believes California municipalities and counties have the moral and legal authority to stop such drilling. If the governor of California and the state legislature will not oppose the practice, then it is up to local governments.
Last year, a bill to halt fracking in the state failed in the state legislature. Governor Jerry Brown has refused to ban the practice by executive order, a move that has angered environmentalists. The Carson City Council imposing a 45-day moratorium on fracking is the best recourse local communities have to preserve its current way of life and protect the environment from fracking.
By Brian T. Yates
Bloomberg Business Week