There is little doubt an economic bonanza awaits California beneath the surface of the Monterey Shale, a geologic formation stretching from San Benito County south along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley right into parts of Southern California.
One study put the possible job-creating potential of this oil and gas trove at more than 20,000. For sure, it would spread oil industry jobs far beyond their current centers in Kern County and some coastal areas of the state. Oil reserves said to lurk within rock formations are said to amount to at least 15 billion barrels. Not to mention many millions of therms of natural gas.
So far, not much has been done with this resource, and there’s plenty of dispute over whether anything should be. The potential is obvious: Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has brought enough oil and gas from similar but smaller formations in Wyoming, the Dakotas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere to turn this country from a big oil importer to a net exporter of petroleum products.
But environmentalists in California worry large-scale fracking of the Monterey Shale and other oilfields previously considered depleted will pollute ground water, foul the air and maybe even cause earthquakes...