Oil companies are now lining up to descend on the 15.4 billion barrels of oil industry believes they can extract from the Monterey Shale, the massive formation that stretches through the Central Valley, Central Coast and down to Southern California. Acid stimulation, not hydraulic fracturing (fracking), may turn out to be the extraction technique that unlocks this dirty prize.
Although fracking has been hotly debated in California and across the country and has received much-deserved scrutiny, other drilling processes may present similar risks to our air, water and health, including acid stimulation. Both fracking and acid stimulation are considered “well stimulation” techniques, processes used to increase oil or gas flows by making underground rock layers more permeable.
Acid stimulation involves injecting high volumes of hydrochloric or hydrofluoric acids to corrode the geology and bring oil or gas to the surface. Like fracking, it is a heavily industrialized process, using high volumes of water and chemicals, and could undercut California’s efforts to address climate change and transition to clean energy.
In California, drillers do not need state permits for well stimulation, and they are not required to report data on fracking, acid injection or any other well stimulation processes. As a result, the state agency that is supposed to regulate oil and gas extraction has little information on well stimulation, its extent, locations, or types of processes that have been used. Nor have the risks and hazards of acid injection been analyzed.
Yet, acid injection poses clear risks. Acid releases during transportation, mixing, underground injection, or in wastewater could have serious consequences. Acid exposure can cause burns, skin, eye and permanent respiratory harm, and ingestion can cause permanent organ damage or death.
Clean Water Action is calling for a halt to all dangerous well stimulation processes, especially those where high volumes of acid or other hazardous chemicals are injected into the earth. The state needs to slow down and assess the dangers of all these processes, rather than allowing unchecked drilling to occur, and risk Californians’ health, environment, communities and climate. Take action now at http://bit.ly/cafrackaction