06:35 GMT +320 January 2020
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    The state of California is in a dire crisis over the lack of rain – going into a fourth year of a drought – that the governor for the first time in state history imposed mandatory water restrictions.

    But one decision Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t made involves an industry that critics say uses a lot of water and should therefore stop while the state deals with the historic drought.

    The practice of fracking – where water and other chemicals are forced deep into the ground to extract oil and gas, has been criticized in the state because it uses a lot of water, and critics want it shut down, at least for the time being.

    But even while the governor is under increasing pressure to stop fracking, he says the practice doesn’t use a lot of water, even though it may sound like a lot to the average Californian.

    Last year, the state oil producers used about 70 million gallons of water in the process of fracking, and that’s the equivalent of about 514 households per year.

    In this Feb. 4 2014 file photo, a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. As bad as the drought in California and the Southwest was last year and in the Midwest a couple years ago, scientists say far worse historic decades-long dry spells are coming. “
    © AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli
    In this Feb. 4 2014 file photo, a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. As bad as the drought in California and the Southwest was last year and in the Midwest a couple years ago, scientists say far worse historic decades-long dry spells are coming. “

    Environmentalists say that still is a lot of water, and fracking also has the potential to contaminate the supply of fresh drinking water.

    While not addressing fracking specifically, Gov. Brown has said he was looking at all options to ameliorate the drought, so a fracking moratorium may be in the works. An anti-fracking group is circulating a petition online to pressure the governor to ban the practice.

    A law passed last year requires oil producers to report the sources of water used in all oil and gas extraction as well as where the water goes.

    The first data report on that law is due at the end of the month, and it is expected to be made public.

     

    Tags:
    water rationing, water shortage, Jerry Brown, drought, California, fracking
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