There's enough oil (maybe) under Central California to make petro companies vastly rich, and to keep people driving around in their carbon-spewing private cars for many years to come. Only problem is you have to use hydrofracking to bust up the shale deposits to get at it. And that involves toxic chemicals and possible contamination of water supplies.
But never mind the environmental problems -- the Obama administration just auctioned off drilling rights on 18,000 acres of land  in Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties, valuable public open space that's now mostly used for agriculture.
That's potentially a serious problem, and there's a good piece that ran last year in the San Luis Obispo New Times  that explains why. Nobody knows for sure what happens when you inject that much of a secret mix of chemicals into the ground below a water table that underlies prime ag land. But based on the entire history of human experience with chemicals and water, it can't be good.
Food and Water Watch is trying to get the state Legislature to enact a moratorium on fracking in California -- although that wouldn't stop the feds, who can still do what they please with Bureau of Land Management property in this or any other state, from allowing Chevron and ExxonMobil to frack up a storm in this lease area. There's a benefit concert Dec. 14, Friday night, to raise funds and awareness to stop fracking; it features a pedal-powered stage with Whiskerman and Shake Your Peace. Inner Mission, 2050 Bryant, SF. 8-11PM. $10.
It's a start.