By Ed Hazard.
For generations, California’s oil and gas industry has worked to bring citizens of the Golden State safe, affordable and reliable energy. But beyond powering the lives of Californians on a daily basis, the industry has provided an undeniable economic boost that continues to propel our state forward and keep us at the forefront of growth and productivity. Recently however, tangible economic impacts have too often been lost among heated rhetoric about energy production.
In 2012, the oil and gas industry provided more than 60,000 jobs and added roughly $26 billion to the economies of both Ventura and Kern County. In Ventura County alone, the energy industry’s total economic contribution was 7 percent of the county’s overall economy – translates into police officers, firefighters, teachers, public workers and other vital services.
Despite these figures, fracking, better known as hydraulic fracturing, has been the biggest topic of controversy within the energy debate.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process that enables the extraction of oil and gas from certain types of rock formations far below ground. It was first used in Ventura County in the 1960’s and the technique has unlocked massive oil and natural gas reserves that have helped to provide Californians with energy independence and economic stability.
Some dismiss hydraulic fracturing due to misconceptions of the practice and the dissemination of misinformation by industry opponents.
Misconceptions regarding the safety and sustainability of fracking, especially around water, tend to ignore some basic facts. For instance, hydraulic fracture fluids in California are often comprised of recycled water and/or groundwater that, in its natural state, the Environmental Protection Agency classifies as “not appropriate for human consumption or agricultural purposes.”
For example, the water used by the local Seneca Resources Corporation for hydraulic fracturing in the Sespe Oil Field is a combination of recycled water and non-potable water from two water source wells in the field. Once the fracturing process has been completed, the fluids are usually removed from the well and recycled to use in Seneca’s future operations.
Because so many misconceptions like these exist, taking an objective viewpoint is important. In the roughly 50 years since fracking began in Ventura County, there have been no environmental impacts. This is a thanks, in large part, to California’s lawmakers who craft some of the strictest environmental laws in the world. Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which will go into effect later this year, builds upon the stringent guidelines of the past to help regulate new technologies and methods.
But our successful environmental record also has to do with the fact that the companies performing this work go to great lengths to ensure they are operating in ways that do not compromise the well-being of Californians, the land or area wildlife – Seneca Resources Corporation is one such company.
Seneca has been an industry leader in safety and responsibility for decades, as evidenced by having earned the California Operator of the Year award in 2012 from the United States Bureau of Land Management. The solid data and transparency provided by companies such as Seneca, which voluntarily releases its fracking data to the public, has shown that the industry not only operates in a responsible manner but that these operations also make good economic sense.
Seneca’s employees live and work in the community, and appreciate the importance of conservation in California. Seneca takes the utmost care to ensure that its work does not interfere with area wildlife, particularly the California condor. Since Seneca established its operations in the Sespe in 1987, there has not been one single instance of a condor injury or death stemming from its work there. This unblemished record is a direct result of Seneca working alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement best practices aimed at protecting condors and other animals in the region.
A careful review of the facts reveals that the truth is quite clear: California’s oil and gas industry safely provides Californians with the energy necessary to live and the economic support needed to thrive. We are fortunate to live in a place with abundant energy sources and spectacular natural beauty. Thanks to companies like Seneca we are well-positioned to enjoy both for many years to come.
Ed Hazard and his family are California mineral owners. Mr. Hazard is President of National Association of Royalty Owners-California (NARO-CA). NARO-CA is an all volunteer non-profit organization representing the interests of the estimated 600,000 oil and gas mineral/royalty owners of California. Founded in 1980, the National Association of Royalty Owners is the only national organization representing solely, and without compromise, oil and gas royalty owners’ interests.