The U.S. EPA requested more information from California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) regarding an applicant’s request to exempt a San Luis Obispo County aquifer from the Safe Drinking Water Act. To the EPA, I say: Here are three reasons to deny this application.
First, DOGGR has approved thousands of wells for extracting oil and re-injecting wastewater in protected aquifers throughout the state. Some of these wells operate within Price Canyon, outside of the exempted aquifer. With this in mind, it would be foolish for the EPA to reward criminal behavior.
Second, the U.S. Geological Survey recently published a study that examined consequences of fracking and underground injection wells in nearby ecosystems. The article cites changes in the downstream nutrient content and how it can disrupt endocrine processes. In short, these practices observably damage local environments and the organisms that inhabit them (i.e., humans). How unfortunate: two agencies working in direct opposition of each other.
Third is Freeport McMoRan’s claim that this aquifer is “geologically isolated.” To this claim I say that Oklahoma’s increase in earthquakes due to wastewater injection is cause for alarm. An earthquake is the kind of mechanism that makes an underground formation go from isolated to leaking.
-- Cameron Gurley - Cal Poly student