Social Justice News Winter 2017
SOCIAL JUSTICE FOCUS ISSUE CHALLENGE
Holiday greetings from your Social Justice Committee!
It has been two years since we as a congregation decided to commit to a focus issue of Caring for the Earth, and we are again at a crossroads, in choosing an issue or issues for the next 2 years.
In October, we held a forum to review our accomplishments from the previous 2 years. We had over a dozen community and church events and activities during that time, as well as numerous sermons from the pulpit related to our focus issue. Our Faith in Action page at mysfuu.org will be sharing that as well as results of a congregation-wide survey over the next few months that relates to how we got where we are and where we are going. We are excited to report that the many responses to the survey show that, as a congregation, we are an amazing group of folks, a high proportion of whom describe ourselves as engaged in justice issues, and that the issues important to us are many and varied.
This December, we will be evaluating the results of the survey. If you have not yet done so, you may still complete a survey; we will post it here.
Reflections on the life of an activist: Millee Livingston
Fifty years ago, when my husband and I moved from New York City to San Francisco, I had no clue that I would translate my concerns for peace, freedom, and justice into actions. It was the time of the Vietnam War and I quickly joined anti-war community organizations to join marches, rallies, meetings and other actions. At that time, I became a member of the San Francisco branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. I was active in that organization until 2014, when I became one of the founding members of Indivisible Auburn, an organization founded by former Washington, DC, staffers to protest/resist the current US administration.
Having had experience in the Bay Area with Unitarian Universalists, which always supported our community actions, I became acquainted with the UU’s in Auburn. I had been a speaker at their services regarding peace and justice issues a few times. One day I picked up their hymnal and read their seven principles and said to myself, “Hmmm, this is what I believe, so why am I not joining this group?”. So I did, becoing a member on April 14, 2002. Needless to say, I joined the Social Action Committee, now known as the Social Justice Committee.
In the beginning of my time with UUs, I was a member of the Membership Committee, a good way to meet people, many of whom became long time friends. Two of the important programs I brought to the UUs, in my opinion, are the Community Celebration for Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Children’s Peace Camp. Both are continuing today as well other community UU projects.
One current project that might be of interest is the Giving Tree, which the UUs have supported for many years. This year, the Giving Tree donation tags will include items that county nurses and social workers have identified as needed. Check the future Order of Service for more information or contact Alex Suba at 916-945-7788. This is a good way to support the work of our youth.
Letter Writing Campaign--Fracking and Water
Social Justice Letter Writing Team
From Time to time the Social Justice Letter Writing Team conducts a study of an issue, and produces a fact sheet, a template advocacy to appropriate legislators or policy makers, and contact list for congregants to use for writing letters of their own if they elect to do so. The letters are made available at services and online. The current focus issue of Caring for the Earth--Water and Food as it Relates to Water, is greatly affected by the fracking activities of oil and gas companies. Effects of fracking activities on California water is explored here, and advocacy focuses on California decision-makers.
Introduction to Fracking, Produced Water, and Its Use in Crop Irrigation (2/19/17)
1. Fracking is the injection of water and chemicals deep into the earth to break up stone (shale) so that the crude oil locked within can be released and eventually refined into petroleum products. Since the 1940s over 1,000,000 US wells have been fracked, including 20,000 to 30,000 between 2011 and 2015.
2. Benefits of the controversial process of fracking include: potential US petroleum independence, an increase in high paying jobs, and the world-wide decrease in the cost of oil, its derivative products, and natural gas.
3. Negatives are:
a. only partially known geological effects (e.g., earthquakes in Oklahoma)
b. the depletion of oil reserves
c. the continued dependence on a non-renewable resource
d. the danger in transporting the volatile petroleum (Several oil train derailments
and the resulting explosions and fires have caused property damage and
e. the use of immense quantities of water (especially problematic in dry areas
such as the western US)
f. the creation of large quantities of produced water, that is, water polluted by the
chemicals used in the fracking process.
4. The exact chemical composition of the fluid injected into the wells is a trade secret of the oil companies, but it includes water, a proppant (e.g., sand), and one or more chemicals. The EPA knows of 1,084 chemicals that have been used in fracking.
5. The formula may vary from well to well depending the hardness of the shale. Fracturing can occur repeatedly in the same well thus requiring more fresh water and generating even more produced water.
6. Produced water is the chemical-laden liquid generated by the fracking process. Estimated amounts of fluids recovered from drilling vary from 15% to 80%.
7. This by product of drilling is generated continually during gas production.
8. 80% of produced water is generated in the western US with California generating 60,738 acre feet, that is, one surface acre one foot deep. For comparison, Folsom Lake holds 976,000 acre feet of water.
9. The September 2011 Bureau of Reclamation report by Guerra, Dahm, and Dundorf suggests the following uses for produced water: a. raising stream flows, b. watering livestock, c. additional fracking, d. suppressing dust, e. putting out fires, f. drinking by humans. This report contains information about the levels of chemicals safe for animals and the EPA's chemical allowances for drinking water. There is no information about the chemicals found in produced water at various well sites.
10. In its December 2016 report the Environmental Protection Agency identified several stages in the cycle of the fracking’s water use: withdrawing water, mixing chemicals with the water, injecting the hydraulic fluid into the wells, and collecting and disposing of the produced water.
11. The report maintains that "these activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances," especially in areas where there is a lot of fracking. The more serious impacts include:
a. Water withdrawals in areas with limited groundwater
b. Large chemical spills of fracking fluid or produced water resulting in
c. Injection of fracking fluid into leaky wells that allow contamination of
d. Injection of fracking fluid directly into groundwater
e. Release of inadequately treated wastewater into surface water sources
f. Leakage of fracking wastewater from unlined pits into groundwater sources
12. The authors of the EPA study note that "Data gaps and uncertainties limited EPA's ability to fully assess the potential impacts on drinking water resources both locally and nationally.”
13. The Ground Water Protection Council maintains a website at www.fracfocus.org where drilling companies may submit fracking information about water, chemicals, etc. for specific wells, but it doesn’t seem that reporting is mandatory.
14. EPA conclusions about the effects of hydraulic fracking on surface and groundwater at different stages of the water cycle:
a. “Spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids and additives during the chemical mixing stage
of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle have reached surface water resources in some
cases and have the potential to reach groundwater resources.”
b. “ . . . the mechanical integrity of the well and the vertical separation distance
between the targeted rock formation and the underground drinking water resources
are important factors that affect the frequency and severity of impacts on drinking
c. “Spills of produced water during the produced water handling stage of the
hydraulic fracturing water cycle have reached groundwater and surface water
resources in some cases.”
d. “. . . discharges of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface
water resources have contributed to elevated levels of hazardous disinfection
byproducts in at least one downstream drinking water system.”
15. “Some of the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle are known to be hazardous to human health. Of the 1,606 chemicals identified by the EPA, 173 had chronic oral toxicity values from federal, state, and international sources that met the EPA’s criteria for inclusion in this report.”
16. “Generally, comprehensive information on the location of activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle is lacking, either because it is not collected, not publicly available, or prohibitively difficult to aggregate."
17. Produced Water and Crop Irrigation. In 2013 in California the extraction 150 million barrels of oil generated about 240,000 acre feet of produced water. “About 50,000 acre feet per year of produced water is used for irrigation of crops for human consumption.”
18. Treated produced water has been used to irrigate crops near Bakersfield for over 30 years because at this point “no studies have shown that irrigating food crops with produced water poses any threat to public health.”
19. According to the Bakersfield Californian Kern County oil producers and local farmers are looking for grant money to build a reservoir and pipeline that would allow the storage and shipment of produced water to irrigate nearby farms that produce half the country’s carrots and 40% of its pistachios. One motive for the project is that it would save the oil companies and farmers $3.5 annually. There was no mention in the article whether the produced water is safe to use on crops.
20. The oil companies who must get rid of this fracking by product are the ones monitoring its safety. Because of growing concern the Central Valley Water Board recently authorized a Food Safety Expert Panel consisting of representatives from several state agencies to look into the issue.
Environmental Protection Agency. Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States Executive Summary. EPA-600-R-16-236ES. December 2016. www.epa.gov/hfstudy
Guerra, Kat, Katherine Dahm, and Steve Dundorf. Oil and Gas Produced Water Management and Beneficial Use in the Western United States. Science and Technology Program Report 157, US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. September 2011. www.usbr.gov/research/AWT/reportpdfs
Jerome, Sara. “Reusing Produced Water to Irrigate Crops” Water Online 27 January 2015.
State Water Resources Control Board, California Environmental Protection Agency. “Frequently Asked Questions About Recycled Oilfield Water for Crop Irrigation.” Fact Sheet. Sacramento, CA 5 April 2016. www.waterboards.ca.gov
Veil, John A., Marcus G. Puder Deborah Elcock, and Robert J. Redweik, Jr. Paper Describing Produced Water from Production of Crude Oil Natural Gas, and Coal Bed Methane. Prepared for the US Department of Energy Technology Laboratory under Contract W-31-109-Eng-38. January 2004. circle of blue.org
Re: Risks to food crops from water produced by 'fracking"
We would like to draw your attention to the practice of irrigating food crops in California using water produced by the hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' process.
The exact chemical composition of the fluid injected into the wells is a trade secret of the oil companies, but it includes water, a proppant (e.g., sand), and one or more chemicals. The EPA knows of 1,084 chemicals that have been used in fracking.
Produced water is the chemical-laden liquid generated by the fracking process. The EPA has reported: “Some of the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle are known to be hazardous to human health. Of the 1,606 chemicals identified by the EPA, 173 had chronic oral toxicity values from federal, state, and international sources that met the EPA’s criteria for inclusion in this report.”
Kern County oil producers and local farmers are looking for grant money to build a reservoir and pipeline that would allow the storage and shipment of produced water to irrigate nearby farms that produce half the country’s carrots and 40% of its pistachios. One motive for the project is that it would save the oil companies and farmers $3.5 annually.
The use of chemical laden water to irrigate food crops seems to be a practice fraught with risks to human health.
We look forward to hearing from you on this issue that has an impact on all of us. Safe water and food are fundamental human rights.
President Donald Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Blvd. NW
Washington DC 20500
Catherine R. McCabe, Acting EPA Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Senator Feinstein, Dianne - (D - CA)
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
FAX (202) 224-2200
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (1st District)
322 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. Tom McClintock (4th District)
2312 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
FAX (202) 225-5444
Gov. Jerry Brown
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814