Residents of California, nay, the residents of Unites States have a huge problem on their hands, and yet most of them are either overlooking it or simply not aware of it. What aggravates this problem is the fact that everyone in power at any level in the United States has tried to sweep it under the rug for reasons obviously political.
The problem is a serious one: the water used for irrigation purpose in California’s Central Valley, one of the largest farming areas in the state, is actually the waste of oil refineries around it.
Environmental groups have been cautioning against the use of oil wastewater for irrigation purpose on the farms, even though they go through a treatment process and are being used for last 20 years.
Their concern is serious because the Central Valley produces 40 per cent of every farm produce in the United States. The Central Valley has an irrigated land area of around 1 lakh acres on which food crops are raised.
And where is the oil wastewater coming from? Obviously, the oil companies around the Valley. These companies have been able to pump in the wastewater back into the ground putting groundwater at high risk of contamination. The use of that same water for irrigation means that the food produced may have been contaminated, though evidence in support of the same is yet to be ascertained.
The wastewater that is used for irrigation undergoes a treatment process operated by one of the many oil companies. Chevron, for instance, treats the water and then sells it to the farmers who need it in the drought prone region. But despite treatment, concerns over the purity remains. Wastewater is after all wastewater and it might contain chemicals that remain at the time the water is used for farming.
Though the water board formed an expert panel to study the water, the panel was unable to do its job because oil companies did not submit full details of the chemicals they mix with the water for oil extraction purposes.
Oil companies like Chevron do not tell what chemicals they use in the process claiming proprietorship. Also, whatever minor study was conducted were sponsored by oil companies. And you know what that means.
Iconic environmental activist Erin Brockovich has now highlighted the problem, as you can see in the video below.
Oil companies hold a sway in US politics.
Chevron, for instance, has a connection with Bill and Hillary Clinton. In fact, Hillary Clinton has a far warmer relationship with oil companies than any of those who participated in the Presidential election.
She was, before her first presidential fight in 2008, a stakeholder in Chevron and other oil companies. And Greenpeace says that Clinton collected more than $2,600,000 in direct and bundled contributions these companies in the just concluded election.
Though it is relatively unclear about the fate of environment under Trump, had Hillary come to power the oil companies would have been the biggest beneficiaries and environment the definite loser.