Tests found that small amounts of potentially harmful or carcinogenic chemicals remain in the recycled fracking water used to irrigate crops in California’s fertile Central Valley.
REDDING, California — California’s governor, a recipient of generous donations from the oil and gas industry, is now responsible for putting dangerous “frack water” into the American food supply.
As California struggles with a historic drought, some farmers in California’s agriculturally fertile Central Valley turned to a water recycling program, allowing them to irrigate their crops at a fraction of the normal cost. According to Phys.org, the recycled water costs about $33 per square foot, while freshwater could cost as much as $1,500 for the same amount.
The recycled water, which was used on some 45,000 acres of farmland, came from fracking wells, and recent water testing found some dangerous chemicals remain even after treatment. Chevron submitted the results of its water tests on Monday, according to Julie Cart, an environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times:
“According to the 138-page report, a laboratory analysis found acetone at levels ranging from 31 parts per billion to 150 parts per billion. Acetone is a powerful industrial solvent.
Benzene, a carcinogen, was present in trace amounts in the samples, according to the lab report. California regulations do not allow benzene at any level in drinking water. There is no state standard for benzene in irrigation water.
All of Chevron’s samples contained oil molecules called total petroleum hydrocarbons, but at concentrations considered safe for drinking and well below the maximum level set in the water recycling program’s permit.”
Similar toxins were found in Texas drinking water tested near fracking sites, according to EcoWatch. But California’s Central Valley may be an especially vulnerable climate, producing a massive amount of food for the entire nation. It’s also home to the majority of the California’s fracking wells and wastewater dumps. The oil industry already consumes millions of gallons of fresh water daily in the drought-stricken state.
Californians concerned about what might be coming out of their taps, and consumers anywhere worried about the contents of their food as a result of hydraulic fracturing, may be wondering who to blame. One key figure is Gov. Jerry Brown who, in September 2013, signed a bill permitting fracking.
The bill was full of last-minute compromises that largely favored the oil industry, leading Dan Bacher, an environmental journalist writing for Counterpunch, to dub Brown, “Big Oil’s Favorite Governor.” Once nicknamed “Governor Moonbeam” for his perceived liberalism and idealism, some activists have now taken to calling him “Big Oil Brown” instead. According to a 2014 report by Oil Change International, a nonprofit fighting climate change, Brown received over $2 million from the fossil fuel industry following his race to the state Attorney General’s office in 2006.
While Brown works hard to be seen as a “green” governor for his support of alternate energy initiatives, when it comes to fossil fuels, his loyalty clearly lies with the oil industry and not the health of the people of his state.
Watch Oil Change International’s parody commercial for Jerry Brown’s “Frack Water Cologne”: