The column written by Bryant Baker (“Iconic landscapes threatened by drilling and fracking proposal,” Jan. 27) was in serious need of some “fact checking.” It was so far off base that I am surprised The Californian published it.
The headline, “Iconic landscapes threatened by drilling and fracking proposal,” and sub-headline, “State-owned lands, even private preserves are at risk of new fossil fuel development” contain some of the most ludicrous statements I have ever seen leveled at the oil and gas industry. But the most ridiculous statement was put under the picture of the Midway Sunset field near Taft. That statement read as follows, “The plan could even threaten Bakersfield’s water supply. Approximately 87 square miles surrounding Lake Isabella — one of the city’s primary sources of drinking water — would be open to drilling and fracking under the plan.”
Please let me provide some education here relative to the “facts” presented in this article. First, I will address the so-called risk to Bakersfield’s water supply. Oil and gas wells will never be drilled, let alone fracked in the middle of the Sierra Nevada granitic batholith (the large igneous body that makes up the entire Sierra Nevada Mountain Range). Oil and gas deposits are not ever found in this setting. So, rest easy Bakersfield and the neighborhoods in the Lake Isabella area, your water will never be threatened by drilling and fracking on the 87 square miles surrounding Lake Isabella as stated in the article.
To continue with fact checking for the lay people who read the article in that issue of The Californian, it seems that the oil industry is about to ruin every national forest, national park, national monument, state park, etc., in California, not to leave out the Pacific Crest Trail, which traverses the top of the aforementioned Sierra Nevada granitic batholith. Most all of these parks, monuments and national forests (except for Mr. Baker’s Los Padres National Forest, which is west and northwest of Bakersfield) exist in the mountains east of Bakersfield on the same granitic batholith that Lake Isabella sets on.
Let me say one more time, oil and natural gas are not ever found in this setting. It is unfortunate that many people read and believe unfounded statements like these which can be characterized as a hatchet job on one of the most important industries in California and the world. Mr. Baker threw everything he could at the wall, regardless of the truthfulness of it, to see what stuck. Finally, he threw a few more unfounded statements at the wall by asserting that even 17,000 jobs are at risk and our entire tourism industry is threatened. Really?
And lastly, what does fracking have to do with any of this? What Mr. Baker referred to was not a BLM “drilling and fracking plan.” Unfortunately, Mr. Baker and most of the public have little or no understanding of what fracking is or when it is used. The general feeling is that when an oil and gas well is drilled, it is fracked, which then pollutes the groundwater. Wrong. Fracking is only used to induce small fractures in tight rocks to aid the hydrocarbon path to the wellbore. It typically takes place thousands of feet below the water table which is already protected by federal and state agency mandated cemented steel casing put in place to make sure there is no possibility of groundwater contamination.
I guess I should expect this from the conservation director for Los Padres Forest Watch. Incidentally, that forest is almost wholly protected by wilderness areas where no oil and natural gas wells will ever be drilled. Furthermore, the part of the Los Padres National Forest in the Big Sur area of the forest is underlain by the Franciscan formation, which is devoid of oil and natural gas.
John Moran has a master’s degree in geology from Oregon State University. He has been working as a petroleum geologist in the oil and gas industry since 1970. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.