Ban Oil and Gas Companies from Selling Wastewater to Irrigate Crops

Target: Jerry Brown, Governor of California

Goal: Stop contaminated fossil fuel wastewater from being used to irrigate crops in the central valley.

Increasing numbers of oil and gas companies are beginning to sell the wastewater left from drilling and purification processes to farmers in California’s central valley. This wastewater undergoes only limited testing and treatment for common and naturally occurring chemicals before being released for use in irrigation. These treatments don’t screen for the full array of chemicals that are used in the fossil fuel industry, which can cause cancer, kidney damage, and reproductive harm.

The exact makeup of the wastewater being sold to farmers isn’t known because there are currently no comprehensive tests that screen for all the toxic chemicals used to make fossil fuels usable. Only two limited studies have been conducted on the practice of using this wastewater for irrigation, one by an oil company selling the water. Neither of the studies can be relied upon for reliable data due to their limited scope, small sample size, and biased sources.

The state of California must ban fossil fuel companies from selling their wastewater to farmers until a long-term, comprehensive study is completed by a neutral party. A panel of experts has recently been called to evaluate the safety of oil and gas wastewater, but there has been little talk of halting the sale of wastewater until a decision is reached. This is a matter that effects millions of people that eat food grown in the central valley and there can be no room for error.

The sale of fossil fuel wastewater to farmers must be banned either for good, or until treatment processes are put in place to make it completely safe for consumers. Remind Governor Brown of his duty to ensure the safety of Californians and all those who eat California-grown foods.


Dear Governor Brown,

Wastewater produced by the fossil fuel industry contains unknown combinations of toxic chemicals, yet it is being openly used to irrigate California’s crops. The wastewater passes only minimal screening before being sold to farmers to irrigate their fields. California already has strict regulations in place for screening wastewater from buildings and offices, but not for oilfield wastewater. This oversight must be immediately corrected.

Multiple environmental groups have already joined together to urge the banning of this unsafe practice, but their protests have gone unheeded by California’s government. The state must listen to its people and halt the use of oil and gas wastewater on crops until it is proved completely safe. A long-term, large-scale study must be completed on the safety of fossil fuel wastewater before its use may be allowed at all.

Crops irrigated by the wastewater must be safe for consumption and for the people working in the fields every day. Until this is proved to be true, oil and gas companies must be banned from selling their wastewater for use in irrigation.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Gene Alexander

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