ARE HECA JOBS WORTH THE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE?

Letters to the Editor November 10, 2013
Bakersfield Californian

If HECA will help, we haven’t heard evidence

Les Clark’s article in support of the Hydrogen Energy California proposal offers many reassurances, but remains unconvincing to me in several ways (“HECA will mean jobs, power and product for Kern County,” Nov. 6).

The underlying problem is that California’s Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources has not systematically collected air pollution and water quality data over time. It has by its own admission little data to support its rosy view of the HECA project. If it exists, it has not been widely shared. Thus we must make do with repeated reassurances and little balanced information.

I am puzzled about how HECA’s use of brackish water will somehow improve water quality. In a semi-arid area such as this, it seems shortsighted to tie up millions of gallons of water deep underground where it can never be used again for agriculture or in homes. We are currently in a drought. That underscores the problem.

Where is the documentation that California farmers need the vast quantity of fertilizer that the plant will produce? Reports indicate that underground fertilizer plumes are now reaching and contaminating water wells in a number of valley towns. Do we need more of this?

Finally, Clark did not mention the hundreds of rail cars which will pass through Kern County daily, showering farms, homes and everything else with coal dust and diesel fumes. It appears that the valley is being used to test a hypothesis about sequestration, not to implement a known process.

David Campbell Bakersfield

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