Fracking in Sacramento: Gasland cometh?

By Hugh Biggar  |  Sacramento News & Review  | Link to article

Controversial natural–gas ‘fracking’ creeps its way toward Sacramento

It is coming to the Sacramento Valley. It may signal its arrival with a vibrating rumble. Or it may come on quiet cat feet, but with a snout that digs deep into the earth. Or it may already be here: There are no state rules monitoring it at the moment, so the whereabouts or size and shape of this thing are a little uncertain.

The “it” in question is fracking, or the controversial extraction of oil and gas through high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals into deep underground rock. In other states, fracking has generated backlash over environmental and public–health issues.

And now, here in Sacramento, Colorado-based company Venoco plans for up to 20 fracking wells in the area, including the nearby Delta, in addition to Willows and Grimes fields in Sutter and Yuba counties, the Dutch Slough fields 90 minutes southwest of the city, plus others locations in Glenn and Colusa counties and Union Island in San Joaquin County.

Concerns about fracking’s environmental impact—not to mention a scene from fracking documentary Gasland, where a man lights methane—heavy water coming out of his kitchen faucet on fire—is reason for alarm. And such concerns have led to improved regulation in other states.

But in California, the state’s regulating agency, the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, has maintained fracking is used too infrequently to be a concern, and therefore needs minimal oversight.