A new comprehensive study by the Pacific Institute sheds light on the risks posed when oil and gas exploration and production operate alongside agriculture.
“There is growing concern about competition for land and water, and the impacts of soil and water contamination on the food supply and health and safety of farmworkers and consumers,” said Matthew Heberger, the study’s lead author.
The disposal of oil and gas wastewater, which contains harmful chemicals, is a particular concern for agriculture. Disposal in unlined percolation pits poses a significant risk of contaminating groundwater resources that may, in turn, be used by agriculture. While this practice has been banned in several states, it is still widely used in California’s Central Valley, one of the nation’s most important agricultural regions. There are also serious deficiencies in the way California regulates the underground injection of wastes – current practices are not sufficiently protective of freshwater aquifers that may be used as drinking water or to irrigate crops and water livestock.