Oil and Ag Fight Over Prime California Farmland

What's the most productive way to utilize the fertile land that sits above California's vast Monterey Shale oil reserve? The environmental impacts of fracking on California's farmland could derail what promises to be an enormous oil boom.
June 5, 2013, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Driven by advances in drilling technology and high oil prices, oil companies are increasingly moving into traditionally agricultural areas like Shafter that make up one of the world’s most fertile regions but also lie above a huge untapped oil reserve called the Monterey Shale," reports Norimitsu Onishi.

"By all accounts, oilmen and farmers — often shortened to 'oil and ag' here — have coexisted peacefully for decades in this conservative, business friendly part of California about 110 miles northwest of Los Angeles. But oil’s push into new areas and its increasing reliance on fracking, which uses vast amounts of water and chemicals that critics say could contaminate groundwater, are testing that relationship and complicating the continuing debate over how to regulate fracking in California."

“'We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of what’s coming,' said [Rex Parris, Mayor of Lancaster] of the drilling for Monterey Shale oil here. 'It could enrich the state beyond belief, but it could also destroy it.'”

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Published on Saturday, June 1, 2013 in The New York Times
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