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California state senator: Dangerous chemicals being pumped underground without oversight

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By Rory Carroll

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California oil and gas regulators have failed to monitor practices used to access shale oil, including the injection of dangerous chemicals underground, a state senator said Thursday, urging passage of her proposed oversight legislation.

Fran Pavley, chair of the Senate committee on Natural Resources and Water, said she was discouraged by the responses she received from the state’s oil and gas well regulator to her inquiry about the use of corrosive acid to dissolve rock and unlock oil in California’s massive Monterey Shale deposit, an issue first raised by Reuters in May.

Industry officials have said that “acid jobs” could play as important a role in extracting oil as the better-known technique of hydraulic fracking.

“It is deeply concerning that dangerous acids and Proposition 65 chemicals are being pumped underground without any permits or oversight,” said Pavley, referring to a decades-old law designed to protect drinking water sources from substances that cause cancer.

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In his response to Pavley’s questions, Mark Nechodom, director of the state’s Department of Conservation, said hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, acetic, formic acid are among the types of chemicals typically used in acid jobs, but could not say how often or in what quantities they are used in California.

“Since the Division does not have well stimulation data captured in a database, the range of specific well stimulation techniques that are being used in California is not readily available at this time,” Nechodom said in his response to Pavley.

“Nor do we have the resources to dedicate to review thousands of scanned documents,” he said.

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Pavley rejected that explanation, saying the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has over the past three years voluntarily declined additional staffing resources that could have helped beefed up oversight.

“Unfortunately, regulators have not deemed these activities worthy of monitoring. Director Nechodom’s letter reaffirms the need for legislation to force DOGGR to fulfill its legal responsibilities—protection of life, health, property and natural resources,” Pavley said.

She said the dearth of information on oil extraction techniques underscores the need for the passage of SB 4, a bill she authored that would require well operators to obtain permits before they frack or acidize a well.

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The permits would require companies to provide estimates of the amount of water and the composition of the well stimulation fluids they planned to use.

The bill, which was approved by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee earlier this month, will be heard by an Assembly appropriations committee in August.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll, additional reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by Richard Chang)


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American, Italian and Russian blast off for ISS

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US, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA's Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.

A NASA TV commentator hailed a "textbook launch" minutes after blastoff in "sweltering" weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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Conservative suggests Trump’s racist rhetoric will incite worse than ‘send her back’ chants: ‘One shudders to wonder’

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In a column for the Washington Post, conservative Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Kathleen Parker said the refusal by Republican lawmakers and the evangelical community to condemn Donald Trump's racist rhetoric is paving the way for something far worse than mere "send her back" chants.

Under a headline that bluntly states, "Those who don’t condemn Trump’s racism are complicit in his bigotry," Parker gets right to her opinion of the president, writing, "Going out on a limb here: President Trump is a racist. And a sexist. And a xenophobic nationalist. Among other things. Not to name call or anything."

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BUSTED: Leaked drug exec emails showed them encouraging opioid abuse to the point people would eat them ‘like Doritos’

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On Friday, the Washington Post published excerpts from a damning series of emails released in a landmark case in Cleveland around the irresponsibility of drug manufacturers and suppliers in contributing to the opioid crisis.

In one email exchange, Victor Borelli, an account manager for pharmaceuticals corporation Mallinckrodt, told KeySource Medical vice president Steve Cochrane that 1,200 bottles of 30mg Oxycodone tablets had been shipped, to which Cochrane replied, "Keep 'em comin'! Flyin' out of there. It's like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh, wait, people are..." and Borelli responded, "Just like Doritos keep eating. We'll make more."

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