New Report from FracTracker and the Natural Resources Defense Council
By Kyle Ferrar, CA Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance
The FracTracker Alliance recently contributed to a report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), titled Drilling in California: Who’s at Risk?. In the report, we find that many communities disproportionally burdened by environmental and public health degradation also live in the areas most impacted by oil and gas (O&G) development, including hydraulic fracturing and acidizing. Additionally, the communities most impacted by such oil and gas activity are disproportionately non-white. Key points of the report are listed below, as outlined by the NRDC:
Key Points of “Drilling in California” Report
- Expanding oil production in California, in areas already heavily drilled or in new areas, can threaten the health of communities.
- New analysis shows that, already, approximately 5.4 million Californians live within a mile of one, or more, of the more than 84,000 existing oil and gas wells.
- More than a third of the communities living with oil and gas wells are also burdened with the worst environmental pollution, as measured by CalEPA’s CalEnviroScreen 2.0. These communities, with heightened risks, are 92 percent people of color.
- To prevent further environmental damage and public health threats, major improvements are required before hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, and other stimulation techniques are allowed to continue in California.
The analysis used the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Office of Health Hazard and Assessment’s (OEHHA) impact screening tool CalEnviroScreen 2.0, which ranks all the census tracts in CA based on various indicators of environmental and public health degradation due to pollution sources. Stimulated and non-stimulated O&G well-site data came from multiple sources including the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources; the South Coast Air Quality Management District; and FracFocus.
Visualizing the Data
The interactive web map below (Figure 1) provides a visual understanding of how these areas may be additionally burdened by California’s industrial oil and gas extraction activities. The CalEnviroscreen 2.0 dataset of census tract scores was mapped spatially to show the areas in CA disproportionately burdened by existing environmental stressors and health impacts. The locations of CA’s O&G production wells were overlaid on these maps since the CalEnviroscreen ranks did not specifically take into account the role of O&G extraction activity in communities. The top 20th percentile of total scores are shown in the map’s default view, and more CalEnviroscreen scores are displayable under the “Layers” tab (top right).
Figure 1. The top 20th percentile of highest CalEnviroscreen 2.0 total scores are shown in the map above along with well counts by census tract. Increasing well counts are portrayed with orange circles that increase in size with the number of wells. Click here to explore.
Figures 2-7 below are provide printable examples of several of CalEnviroscreen’s 2.0’s most important rankings when considering O&G extraction activity.