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California Wine Confronts Fracking

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California wine countryFor years, petroleum companies have practiced hydraulic fracturing (better known as “fracking”) in California, with virtually no government regulation or oversight. A 2011 investigation by Environmental Working Group revealed that fracking has been widely used in California for decades, contrary to assurances by officials that its use was uncommon in the state—even though they had never attempted to track the use of the controversial extraction method.

Now the Department of Conservation/Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), the state agency nominally in charge of drilling, is considering new rules. Its “Pre-Rulemaking Discussion Draft” reveals few substantive changes and scant protection for the public.

Wines & Vines has reported on fracking in North America winegrowing regions since 2010. Proven or suspected repercussions of fracking—in which massive quantities of water and “trade secret” doses of chemicals are injected into petroleum-rich substrata to extract oil and/or natural gas—include heavy industrial truck traffic and pollution on rural roads, visually defacing scenic wine trails, potential triggering of earthquakes and, perhaps most vital, extraction and contamination of untold gallons of groundwater.

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