Will Plans for Massive Tunnels to Pipe Northern California Water South Mean a Boon for Fracking?
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force for the South Coast, is pushing for increased "fracking" in California.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas, according to Food and Water Watch.
The question is: Where will the industry get the water for fracking on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and coastal areas, including Monterey County where large Monterey Shale deposits are located?
Burt Wilson, Editor and Publisher of Public Water News Service, believes he has the answer. He contends that the "hidden agenda" of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build twin tunnels is to provide water for the environmentally destructive process of fracking in California.
Wilson definitely knows what he is talking about. He was was on the media staff of the "No on 9" campaign against the peripheral canal in 1982. They won by a 2/3 vote statewide and stopped the canal.
Unfortunately, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the urging of corporate agribusiness interests, began his campaign build the peripheral canal in 2007. Brown has continued and fast-tracked the Republican governor's plan, opting to go for twin tunnels under the Delta than a single peripheral canal.
"As the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) nears completion, some unusual elements of the project have been revealed piecemeal and when they are all put together the total effect is that there is a hidden agenda going on that is far from what has been revealed on the surface," said Wilson.
He cited the example at one public meeting last year when Dr. Jerry Meral, the titular head of the BDCP announced, "We will not take any additional water from the Delta," a meeting that I also covered.
"I could hardly believe what I heard. I jumped up and said, 'Oh good, then we can cancel the twin tunnels.' Everyone laughed, but Dr. Meral's statement continued to stick in my mind. It didn't make sense," recalled Wilson.
Then, a month later Wilson found himself watching a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) meeting where northern California water managers were discussing the sale of water transfers and exchanges from one place to the other.
Curt Aikens, manager of the Yuba City Water Agency, declared, "Yes, the twin tunnels will make it easier to effect water exchanges from northern to southern water markets."
Steve Hirsch, another northern California water manager, explained "how 2/3 of water banked in Northern California went out to the ocean. There was no way to get it to the Metropolitan Water District," according to Wilson.
Interior official refuses to answer question about fracking
Ms. Letty Belin from the Department of the Interior appeared at the next BDCP public meeting and Wilson asked her, "Do you think Delta water should be sent south to be used for fracking?"
She hesitated a moment and then replied, "I am not going to answer that question at this time" and then broke into a rambling talk about some other subject," according to Wilson.
"I took that to be a 'yes,'" emphasized Wilson.