SFGate.com/SF Chronicle | By Fran Pavley | Link to article
In 1922, U.S. Interior Secretary Albert Fall secretly gave away the rights to oil fields in Elk Hills, just west of Bakersfield, and Teapot Dome, Wyo., for a pittance. After a series of congressional hearings revealed that these natural resources had been leased at millions of dollars below their true price, the Teapot Dome Scandal erupted as one of the most egregious violations of the public trust in American history.
Nearly a century later, California is at risk of another giveaway to the same industry. At stake are more than 15 billion barrels of oil in the Monterey Shale, a vast layer of sedimentary rock stretching from north of Bakersfield to Baldwin Hills, including my state Senate district in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. This formation holds two-thirds of the nation’s shale oil – twice the reserves in Texas and North Dakota combined. Advances in technology like directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and acid injection (“acidizing”) have enabled companies to access untouched oil trapped in this shale.