To Mr. Kruses statement that "California has successfully regulated the disposition of over 120 billion gallons of produced water in connection with drilling and production... without any proved detrimental effect on the environment." I would point to the Starrh v. Aera case that took place in Bakersfield. Mr. Starrh has been awarded over $8 million dollars for the destruction of his almond and pistachio trees due to contamination from disposal ponds that leaked fracking waste into the water. For more info Click Here. It would seem that in at least this instance, the produced water did have a "detrimental effect on the environment" with current regulation and current levels of oversight.
In addition on may point to the EPA Superfund site in Fillmore. While the contamination was a result of refinery activities decades ago, those activities are highly regulated, and yet there was ground water contamination with benzene. The clean up continues today.
It is true that the STARRH case is the only case so far in CA that is recent, directly linked to contamination from fracking. But a valid question, if we have any interest in protecting water, seems to be "If we don't know where fracking is occuring, or when it is occuring, or what chemicals are being used, how can we know if the water is being contaminated?"
Is it fair or right for the homeowner to have all the responsibility for testing and ensuring their water is safe? Is it fair to force an oil company to ensure that their activities are not affecting area water ?
SEE BELOW FOR ARTICLE ON NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANIES RESPONSE TO FRACKING - THEY ARE NOT INSURING COMPANIES DUE TO RISK.
There is currently no regulation within DOGGR or any other agency in the State that monitors or tracks where and when fracking occurs. DOGGR officials have confirmed this. They have requested that operators voluntarily disclose frack jobs on the website fracfocus.org, but currently it is voluntary. The draft regs proposed by DOGGR will require this disclosure.
To the statement that "there is no evidence that fracking fluids have contaminated any drinking water," there is the common response that 1) when we do not know all of the chemicals used in each particular frack job (and we don't even know where the frack jobs occur) how can we track where they go, or don't go. and 2) people in other states, PA, OH, WV and others have settled out of court with companies because their water is contaminated. It is interesting to note that it is clearly within the companies best interest to settle all cases out of court so as not to make a record of any contamination and to force plaintiffs to sign confidentiality agreements, which are generally not allowed in court decisions.
A case involving Warren Oil company, has proven drinking water contamination from fracking. That fact is not disputed, the dispute arose out the insurance company for the oil company not wanting to cover their claim. "The case arises from an insurer’s refusal to defend or indemnify its insured, a drilling company, after drilling activities contaminated a nearby homeowner’s water well." Click here for more info.
HERE IS AN EXERPT AND LINK TO AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE RISKS THAT THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY SEES IN FRACKING:
POTENTIAL LIABILITY RISKS http://www.riskandinsurance.com/story.jsp?storyId=533351196
The drilling presents a variety of environmental liability risks, including contamination of groundwater with methane leaked from faulty well casings. A Duke University study of 60 drinking water wells in Pennsylvania and New York last year found that wells within one kilometer of active gas drilling operations contained average levels of shale methane above the federal level for hazard mitigation; in some cases, levels were high enough to present an explosion risk.
Other hazards include air pollution from methane released at wellheads during drilling or from well blowouts; pollution from disposal of fracking fluid in evaporation ponds that may leak or overflow in heavy rains; and seismic activity potentially triggered either by fracking or by the high-pressure injection of fracking waste into disposal wells. The U.S. Geological Survey concluded earlier this year that an increase in the rate of small quakes in Arkansas and Oklahoma in recent years is "almost certainly" related to oil and gas production, while Ohio officials have linked small quakes there to waste injection wells.
Apart from drilling operations themselves, fracking presents such ancillary hazards as commercial auto risk arising from the hundreds of truck trips required to haul equipment, fracking fluid and waste to and from drill sites.
"You're sending a significant amount of industrial activity into areas that are not built for it," said Michael Conley, a principal with law firm Offit Kurman in Philadelphia.
Of the few dozen liability suits filed so far, most involve allegations of groundwater contaminations and most have been brought in Pennsylvania, New York and Texas, according to Edwards Wildman. None of the cases has led to a jury verdict yet, Hoffnagle said, though energy companies and drillers -- often under pressure from state regulators -- have settled a handful of suits.
As of the end of 2011, for example, Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., had paid or escrowed $5.5 million to settle drinking water contamination claims in Dimock, Pa., including $1.3 million in fines and settlements paid to the state and $4.2 million for affected property owners, according to Cabot's 2011 Form 10-K report.
Well owners and operators such as Cabot are not the only likely targets of liability litigation, experts said. Other targets can include drilling contractors that perform the actual drilling and fracking operations; subcontractors handling various other roles at the sites, including transportation of equipment, fracking fluid and waste; and the manufacturers of well equipment and the constituent chemicals in fracking fluid.
Fracking risks have caused at least one insurer to back away from the exposure: In a leaked internal memo, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. officials earlier this year called the risk "too great to ignore" and said that the insurer would not write general liability, auto liability or truck motor cargo coverage for companies with fracking exposure. Nationwide later clarified that it has never insured the oil and gas industry, and that its policies "were not designed to provide coverage for any fracking-related risks."... CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE