— originally drafted by Christian Gerlach and edited by Vickie Rock
Dear Governor Brian Sandoval,
Can you please explain why the Nevada Division of Water Resources has denied new water wells to farmers and ranchers due to drought in northern Nevada, yet that same Division has approved permits for oil companies like Noble Energy, a corporation that plans to use millions of gallons of our ground water to hydraulically fracture in a known seismic zone?
Farmers and ranchers actually return something of value to humanity. Frackers, on the other hand, infuse our limited water resources with hundreds of nasty chemicals, including known carcinogens like benzene and glycol-ethers (precursors to plastics). In that process, the water consumed by frackers is rendered unusable, except for more fracking.
Governor, you are allowing state agencies, that are supposed to protect our citizenry and natural resources, to disregard measures that ensure the public’s safety. SB390, as passed, makes it such that companies like Noble Energy can literally frack Nevadans, without any fear of recourse for any misdeeds or damage the create environmentally or ecologically.
The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is being paid by Noble Energy to do studies on the areas that are going to be fracked. And, according to the Nevada Division of Minerals, the results of DRI’s study can be kept confidential at the request of Noble Energy for potentially, an undisclosed amount of time. Studies are NOT being done independently of Noble Energy, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection won’t be required until 2015 to come out with its own study of fracking’s impact. How is this not a conflict of interest? Something that puts people’s livelihoods on the line? The people of rural Nevada don’t have the luxury of LakeTahoe or LakeMead. Northern Nevadans have water wells that could easily be poisoned through fracking processes.
On March 13th 2013, KNPR’s State of Nevada had Rayola Dougher, a senior economic adviser for the American Petroleum Institute, as a guest. She misled KNPR’s listeners as to the safety of fracking. Ms. Dougher failed to mention that the process is exempt from seven major federal regulations:
- the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, due to the “Halliburton loophole” pushed through by former Vice-President/former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, exempting corporations from revealing the chemicals used in fracking fluid;
- the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which exempts fracking from federal regulations pertaining to hazardous waste;
- the Superfund law, which requires that polluters remediate for carcinogens like benzene released into the environment, except if they come from oil or gas;
- the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act;
- the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act;
- the National Environmental Policy Act; and
- the Toxic Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
Really? Please explain how SB390 which you signed into law will protect our municipal water supplies. I’d love to hear or read that explanation.
Another fact, which was taken offline by Nevada Public Radio (@KNPR), is that a man by the name of David Focardi commented about the interview. Mr. Focardi commented that he had worked on oil rigs in Nevada and that there was fresh water up to 14,000 feet deep. I reached out to Mr. Focardi, but he has yet to answer any of my correspondence.
According to Mr. Lowell Price of the Nevada Division of Minerals, fracking would take place in the 7000 to 9000 foot depth range. And while our ground water aquifers may be at depths of say 14,000 feet, our “ground” is riddled with fault lines. Those fault lines mean that there may not be an impervious layer of rock between where hydraulic fracturing is proposed to take place and the actual aquifer feeding our communities with drinking water. Those fault lines may also provide connections between subterraneous channels and the different aquifers of water supporting our communities. Once that water is contaminated, what happens to our communities. The only good that may come from fracking, if you really can call that “good” — is that I guess that would mean you won’t be grabbing any of that water from contaminated northern Nevada aquifers for use in Las Vegas and its suburbs. But then, that’s a whole different letter for another day.
Fracking processes require thousands of gallons of water-laden frack fluid PER MINUTE pumped under high pressures into deep horizontally drilled oil/gas wells. Frack fluid could be released through a fault line or a fracture created by fracking into municipal ground water. When I spoke to someone at the Desert Research Institute they said that a geological study is being done and any “study” would remain the proprietary information of Noble Energy. So, even if Noble Energy or the Desert Research Institute found fault lines they won’t be required to tell anyone about it. Reliance on secret and proprietary studies conducted by organizations that would have significant incentive to conceal any information that might have an adverse effect on approval, is tantamount to malfeasance in governance on your part.
I realize that if Noble Energy had to release information as to where the oil is, that could allow other oil companies to come in and undercut Noble Energy. But there needs to be a work-around to ensure our water resources are not placed at risk. The risk to human health and life should matter more than any sum of profit for a single corporation.
So I ask you Governor why frack with us or allow others to do so? There is already oil drilling in Nevada done without Fracking. Why must we frack? I say bring oil jobs to Nevada if you must, but don’t frack! Now the reason I post this is because of what you promote, Governor Sandoval. You keep saying it’s about jobs and that Hydraulic Fracturing would bring jobs to Nevada. The truth is, these jobs won’t be widespread nor will they sustainable lest there are thousands of oil/frack wells, like there are in Texas or North Dakota. But, Mr. Governor, we do NOT have the water resources to make that happen. And what water we do have, won’t be usable for human consumption once Frackers are done with it. So. Mr. Governor, when all is said and done, what jobs you create would be for naught, as without drinkable water, Nevadans will no longer be able to live anywhere near the wastelands created by the Frackers.