Clean Water Action: New Reporting Reveals the Oil Industry Still Injecting into Protected Groundwater in California

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

In response to reporting from the Desert Sun that California regulators continue to allow oil field wastewater injection into potential drinking water sources in Kern County, Andrew Grinberg of Clean Water Action issued the following statement:

“It’s unacceptable that oil companies are still injecting toxic wastewater into potential drinking water sources, in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Despite significant progress by state agencies in recent years to improve California’s Underground Injection Control program, the oil and gas industry still has far too much influence. State regulators need to stand up to fossil fuel interests and take more aggressive action to protect our water.

Oil and gas development has fueled the climate crisis and polluted our state for the last century, and continues to do so today. The cost of doing business with the oil industry is high: Drilling in neighborhoods, right next to homes and schools; dumping wastewater into open pits which has polluted groundwater and destroyed farms; onshore and offshore oil spills; oil field worker deaths; and injection of toxic waste into potential drinking water sources. Regulators have failed to rein in these harmful impacts of this industry and protect our communities.

California can no longer afford to be a fossil fuel state -- it’s time to accelerate the transition away from our oil-soaked history and toward a clean energy future. If the oil industry can’t operate responsibly, then it shouldn’t operate here at all.

Clean water is the most important resource for California’s future. After committing $130 million annually to help the one million Californians without safe drinking water, and adopting new underground injection regulations in April, Governor Newsom, his regulators, and the Legislature need to ensure the immediate protection of California groundwater from the threat of oil field wastewater injection.”

Clean Water Action calls for the following actions from the Newsom Administration and state agencies:

  • Immediately shut-down all wells injecting into potential underground sources of drinking water.

  • Conduct reviews for all injection projects in the state for compliance with state and federal law and regulations - and respond to out of compliance injection with emergency orders to cease operations.

  • The State Water Board should use its authority under the Water Code (Sec 13267) to issue informational orders to the oil companies to learn the identities and concentrations of all chemicals being injected in these non exempt aquifers.

  • Launch an investigation on the impacts of injection into potential drinking water sources, and compel oil companies to remediate all identified pollution.

  • Place a moratorium on advancing aquifer exemptions until criteria are updated to reflect modern conditions, and assurances that State Water Board designations of protected groundwater are enforced.

  • Include the examination of water impacts in the forthcoming state study of reducing oil production in California to ensure the managed decline of oil production in the state protects water.

Michael Kelly
202.895.0420x103
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