California is still recovering from one of the worst droughts in history.
So why are state regulators asking the Trump administration to turn trillions of gallons of our groundwater over to the oil industry?
Officials with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources want to exempt dozens of aquifers across California from federal water-protection rules.
If they succeed, oil companies would get permission to dump toxic waste fluid into these underground water sources.
In the crosshairs: more than 40 aquifers in Alameda, Kern, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura and other counties across the state.
These aquifers contain trillions of gallons of water that California might need in the dry decades to come. And they're slated for sacrifice to the very companies that are helping to worsen climate change and the drought that comes with it.
But Californians are fighting back. From the Bay Area to Southern California, communities are urging Gov. Brown's oil regulators to halt this dangerous groundwater giveaway.
Toxic Dumping for Dummies
Oil companies in California have a problem. Their oilfield operations produce vast volumes of waste fluid.
This fluid is toxic, dangerous stuff. It's usually contaminated with benzene and other cancer-causing oilfield chemicals.
The oil industry typically dumps this toxic waste down disposal wells into underground reservoirs, at the expense of our communities and environment.
That's why oil companies want control of dozens of aquifers across our state — to turn them into trash dumps for oil waste.
Aquifer Exemptions: Permission to Pollute
Under the new plan, state regulators could approve more than 40 oil industry applications and send them to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for permission to exempt California aquifers from water-protection rules.
If the Trump administration approves these “aquifer exemptions,” oil companies would be given a license to dump their waste fluid into our underground water sources. Even aquifers near the ones slated for exemption would be at risk — oil waste can spread underground. And earthquakes can open new pathways for contamination.
The exemptions would also allow companies to drill hundreds of new oil wells that would pull more dirty oil out of the ground while climate change ratchets up our risk of devastating droughts.
We can't let that happen. We can't let state officials and the Trump administration give away our water to the oil industry.