Protecting Butte County from fracking

Countering Sen. Jim Nielsen’s dishonest recent mailer

The author, a longtime Oroville resident, is the spokesman for Frack Free Butte County.

State Sen. Jim Nielsen recently sent out a mailer falsely claiming that the Frack Free Butte County campaign is against “safe domestic oil production in California.” We are not against safe, traditional oil and gas extraction. We are opposed to fracking and nontraditional oil and gas extraction methods, which use millions of gallons of water laced with carcinogenic chemicals, injected into the ground and placed under extreme pressure to fracture strata to release trapped oil and gas.

As our petition states, we’re calling on Butte County supervisors to “impose an immediate ban on … fracking and other nontraditional oil and gas recovery techniques.” For more information, visit

The toxicity of frack fluid is frightening. One gallon can contaminate up to 1 million gallons of drinking water. This is an enormous risk—too great to chance in Butte County. Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and poisoned water poisons our food, livestock, economy and future.

The fossil fuel industry’s own service company, Schlumberger, reports a 6 percent well-casing failure rate on all new wells and up to a 50 percent well-casing failure rate after a 30-year period.

Other states are suffering the consequences of fracking with poisoned water and topsoil. According to The Denver Post, which analyzed spills from fracking in Colorado, “At least 716,982 gallons (45 percent) of the petroleum chemicals spilled during the past decade have stayed in the ground after initial cleanup—contaminating soil, sometimes spreading into groundwater.”

Here in California, in Kern County, farmer Fred Starrh won an $8.5 million lawsuit against Bakersfield-based Aera Energy after his almond orchards died from fracking wastewater seeping into and poisoning his aquifer.

Frack wastewater injection wells also are causing earthquakes. Oklahoma has had a rate of two earthquakes a year from 1978 to 2008. That rate has escalated to 147 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 and larger just this year, because of frack wastewater injection wells. Can these wastewater injection wells cause another Loma Prieta earthquake here?

We want to protect Butte County’s water and agriculture, plus have safe, secure domestic energy and energy independence. A ban on fracking in Butte County will not raise your energy prices, but lifting export restrictions on crude oil and natural gas will. This will increase energy costs to consumers and our nation’s industries. This global sale of crude oil and natural gas will only undercut our energy independence goals and wipe out our children’s future energy reserves.