The Center for Biological Diversity is a fringe, “ban fracking” activist group that has made a habit of gathering publicly available information, manipulating it — and often intentionally distorting it — to suit its political goals, and then distributing it to the media as an objective “analysis.” The campaign operation is often complete with a press release, accompanied naturally by an alarmist headline. The most recent example is particularly egregious, suggesting chemicals employed in a carefully controlled operation like “fracking” actually “threaten public health” in Los Angeles.
Unsurprisingly, CBD does not establish whether these chemicals have crossed a health threshold that actual scientists use to assess risk. Instead, CBD merely lists the names of chemicals and then asserts — apparently through a priori means — a link to health problems.
Fortunately, the folks at Californians for a Safe , Secure Energy Future have thoroughly debunked CBD’s latest analysis. Below is a release that the group issued recently in response to CBD’s scare tactics, which includes a careful explanation of why CBD simply should not be trusted on this subject.
In response to a misleading and factually inaccurate ‘report’ released today by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Californians for a Safe, Secure Energy Future issued the following statement:
“It’s clear that the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) hasn’t done its homework because the substances mentioned in the report are heavily regulated by federal, state and local agencies. Using CBD’s rationale would lead to an effort to ban home improvement stores because they sell the same household products that CBD criticizes in their report,” said Sabrina Lockhart, communications director, Californians for a Safe, Secure Energy Future. “CBD is continuing to use scare tactics to stop all oil production in the state which would jeopardize California’s energy independence by forcing the state to rely more on imported oil. Oil production is highly regulated in California and is a vital part of our economy by creating quality jobs and producing affordable energy.”
Key inaccuracies in CBD’s ‘report’ include neglecting the strict regulations that industry must follow and using misleading terms to describe common household products. For example:
- The Oil and Gas Industry Follows Strict Federal, State and Local Regulations: Contrary to CBD’s claim, air emissions from the oil and gas industry in California are heavily regulated by a tapestry of laws and regulations. California’s air quality mandates preceded even the federal Clean Air Act. In addition to the Divison of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), which regulates all surface equipment and downhole activity, and Air Quality Management Districts (AQMD) closely test and regulate industry emissions, including requiring closed-loop systems to specifically to prevent the release of vapor and air emissions. City-level regulation is also robust. For example, in Los Angeles, air emissions are regulated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and 18 other agencies that regulate the industry’s operations in that city.
- CBD Misleads the Public by Labeling Substances Used Underground as “Air Toxins”: The substances mentioned in the report, and the technologies targeted, have been routine elements of oil and gas development for decades. These substances aren’t ‘air toxins’ because they are not released into the air. They are used in well stimulation operations thousands of feet below ground under billions of tons of impermeable rock.
- CBD Tries to Scare the Public by Using Chemical Terms for Common Household Products: An examination of CBD’s rhetoric demonstrates that it is trying to instill fear in the public rather than present scientifically sound information. For example, it seeks to create worry about ‘crystalline silica,’ which, in layman’s terms, is playground sand. It also mentions hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids. While these acids certainly need to be handled carefully above ground, CBD does not mention the fact that these acids – used to stimulate oil and gas wells for more than 100 years – are also readily available at hardware stores.