By Kyle Ferrar, CA Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance
As my first year in The Bay Area of California comes to a conclusion and the summer once again turns into fall I realize how much more this time of year meant for me living on the east coast. For us lucky ducks living in the Bay Area, fall is perpetual. With the California drought seasons blur together, but back home in Pennsylvania and New York, fall marks a much appreciated relief from 90°F+ days. Regardless of where you live certain fall activities are universal, including hockey, postseason baseball, football, and most importantly for kids – going back to school.
In California alone, almost 6.24 million students from kindergarten to 12th grade are enrolled and attend classes at one of the 10,366 state “campuses.” State-recognized schools range in size from under a dozen students to a maximum 2013/2014 enrollment of 5,229. When so many children are together in one space, they share much more than just the scholarship, social development, and the occasional but inevitable flu virus. They share the same environmental media (air, water, soil) and are therefore exposed to the same environmental contaminants.
To understand who among this vulnerable population is subject to potential health impacts, the FracTracker Alliance has put together a report analyzing the demographic characteristics of schools located near oil and gas extraction activity. An interactive map of the data that was analyzed is shown below, as are the points of the report. The full report can be found here:
Las Estimulaciones por Fracturación Hidráulica y la Perforación Petrolífera Cerca de las Escuelas y dentro de los Distritos Escolares de California son una Carga Desproporcionada para los Estudiantes Hispanos y Estudiantes No Blancos.
Sequoia Elementary School located in Shafter, CA.
In the background, less than 1,200 feet from the school is
an oil well (API 403043765) that was hydraulically fractured.
Key Findings of School Analysis:
- There are 485 active/new oil and gas wells within 1 mile of a school and 177 active/new oil and gas wells within 0.5 miles of a school.
- There are 352,784 students who attend school within 1 mile of an oil or gas well, and 121,903 student who attend school within 0.5 miles of an oil or gas well.
- There are 78 stimulated wells drilled within 1 mile of a school and 14 stimulated wells drilled within 0.5 miles of a school.
- There are 61,612 students who attend school within 1 mile of a stimulated oil or gas well, and 12,362 students who attend school within 0.5 miles of a stimulated oil or gas well.
- School Districts with greater Hispanic and non-white student enrollment are more likely to contain more oil and gas drilling and stimulation.
- Schools campuses with greater Hispanic and non-white student enrollment are more likely to be closer to more oil and gas drilling and stimulation.
- Students attending school within 1 mile of oil and gas wells are predominantly non-white (79.6%), and 60.3% are Hispanic.
- The top 11 school districts with the highest well counts are located the San Joaquin Valley with 10 districts in Kern County and the other just north of Kern in Fresno County.
- The two districts with the highest well counts are in Kern County; Taft Union High School District, host to 33,155 oil and gas wells, and Kern Union High School District, host to 19,800 oil and gas wells.
- Of the schools with the most wells within a 1 mile radius, 8/10 are located in Los Angeles County.
The interactive map below allows the user to compare the demographical profiles of school districts with oil and gas drilling and stimulation activity. Non-white enrollment percentages of school districts are displayed in shades of blue. Overlaid with red are the relative counts of stimulated and/or non-stimulated oil and gas wells. The highest counts of wells are hosted in school districts located in the Central (San Joaquin) Valley and along California’s south coast. Geologically, these areas lay above the Monterey Shale – the 50 million year sedimentary basin producing California’s oil reserves.