Sixty Percent of Oil and Gas Leases Since 2017 Were In Water Stressed Areas

Nov 19, 2019

A review of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s most recent oil and gas leasing data shows that since 2017, more than 60 percent of oil and gas leases were offered in water-stressed areas. KDNK’s Lucas Turner has more.

Credit John Ciccarelli / BLM

The report from the Center for American progress says that In Nevada, almost 97 percent of new leases were offered in areas of “high” or “extremely high” water stress. In Colorado, that number is closer to 34 percent. 

The US Energy Information Administration says that the vast majority of new oil and gas wells being drilled in the United States are Hydraulically Fractured, or “Fracked.” These types of wells have made up the majority of new drilling since 2012 and accounted for 70 percent of new wells by 2017.

 

This Fracking process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and various chemicals deep into the earth at extremely high pressure to break up the underlying shale formations, releasing the oil, gas, and radioactive materials trapped inside.

A single fracked well uses 1.5 to 16 million gallons of water, according to the United States Geological Survey

 

As the Report from The Center From American progress shows, there are no standard reporting requirements for energy companies about water usage.

 

Jenny Rowland Shea authored the report titled Oil and Gas Development Is Creating a Problem for the Arid West. She says the Federal Government should be gathering consistent data on water usage by energy companies in the west. She also says the BLM should develop guidance to ensure consideration for the effect that Oil and Gas development has on watersheds.

 

Click here to download a copy of the bill being introduced by Senator Udall to address the issue.