California is facing an enormous environmental catastrophe in the form of a drought unprecedented in modern history. In four years time, some of the most beautiful lakes, streams and ponds in the country have all but dried up, and scientists are concerned that without a significant rain season soon, the damage may be irreversible.
To try to combat the drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued California’s first ever mandated restrictions on water usage via executive order. The order forces water authorities to reduce water usage by 25%, places strict rules for conservation on cemeteries, golf courses and college campuses, and will replace 50 million square feet of lawn with “drought resistant landscape.”
The order places the burden of cutting back water usage directly on the residents of the state. The order does not, however, mention fracking or oil production. At all.
Reuters reported that fracking in California consumed nearly 70 millions of water last year. While proponents of killing our environment for oil and natural gas argue that the water used is largely recycled, it’s estimated that fracking will consume the same as 526 households.
Not included in those estimates is steam injection, a practice commonly used for oil and gas production. Reuters said that environmentalists estimated the use of California’s freshwater by big energy companies to be at 2 million gallons a day.
Regardless of whether or not water for fracking is recycled, it isn’t re-used, because it is contaminated with the poisons required to fracture rock and extract oil. Water used by residents is recycled back into potable water.
Zack Malitz of environmental group Credo told Reuters last week:
Governor Brown is forcing ordinary Californians to shoulder the burden of the drought by cutting their personal water use while giving the oil industry a continuing license to break the law and poison our water. Fracking and toxic injection wells may not be the largest uses of water in California, but they are undoubtedly some of the stupidest.
Once again, profit from oil and natural gas trumps the world we live on.