In news that stunned most onlookers, the Energy Information Administration confirmed that it's cut its estimate of oil technically recoverable from California's Monterey Shale from 113 to 15 billion barrels of oil to 0.6 billion barrels - a downgrade of 96 percent.
Ninety six percent. Not a typo.
As any any California native and/or graduate of a high school geology class knows, California has messy geologic beds - folded, twisted, shaken, and stirred, unlike the neatly made geologic beds drawn with straight lines in textbooks. Geologists have long known that the Monterey Shale has 400 billion barrels of oil, but it was thought to be mostly unrecoverable. A 2011 estimate from the EIA pegged the amount of recoverable oil using today's technologies (fracking and acidizing) at 15.4 billion barrels, later downgraded to 13.7 billion barrels. But even that 13.7 billion barrels has turned out to be unrecoverable using fracking.
The hype is vanishing like the Sierra snowpack in a drought-stricken year. No 2.8 million jobs. No $24.6 billion in tax revenue. (Of course, as we've seen with Keystone XL, those jobs never were there in the first place.) No more Jerry Brown hyping the economic benefits of fracking.
In Ventura County, home to both onshore and offshore oil, there's been an uptick in exploration, but no Bakken-style boom. No rents doubling or tripling. No over-full bars and restaurants bursting at the seams from people new in town. No man camps. No skyrocketing crime rate. Just a county that was hit as hard as any other in California by the recession and is now beginning to pick itself up again. EIA's downgrade didn't come as a surprise to careful observers.
I've put a moratorium on fracking into the California Democratic Party platform and organized messages at the party convention. California legislators are now considering SB 1132, a bill to place a moratorium on fracking in California. They might as well. The market is putting its own moratorium on fracking up the Golden State anyway.