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Does California Need Oil or Water More?

  • Published on December 20th, 2010 by

Getting oil out of the ground requires water. And as oil supplies are depleted, this process requires more and more water. It turns out that nowadays oil companies are using a TON of water,.. (to access precious oil for our gas-guzzling cars).

“Oil companies are grabbing an increasing share of the water in California’s Central Valley. Last year, oil companies took 83% of the district’s water allocation, according to new data published by High Country News,” Susan Kraemer of our sister site Cleantechnica writes.

In Kern County, California, it now takes 8 barrels of fresh water to get out 1 single barrel of oil. Twenty five years ago, in 1985, when oil was plentiful, it took only about half that amount, four and a half barrels of water. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel.”

In general, making energy from fossil fuels requires a ton of water. With droughts lasting up to 60 years expected to hit the U.S. in the near future, it seems that we had better find ways to decrease our water usage quick. Cutting our oil (and coal) production and use would be one big step in that direction.

Of course, it is easy to demonize the oil companies, but they are basically just supplying us with a product we demand.

71% of oil consumption in the U.S. is for transportation. For sure, most of that is for automobiles and planes. If you want to help save our water supply and reduce our oil consumption and needs, hop on a bike or transit next time you go out and hop on a train instead of a plane for long-distance trips.

Photo Credit: swisscan via flickr


About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

2 comments

  • not to mention the amount of water it takes to make a car before you even put gas in it. perhaps peak water is hitting about the same time as peak oil. and good point about “demonizing the oil companies” of which I do my fair share. The same applies to plastics, chemicals, coca-cola, etc.–they continue to dominate because there is a market for it.

    The one thing missing from that infographic on the linked page is the hidden role of our military-industrial complex, which is the single largest user of oil. perhaps not as germane to CA policy decisions, my opinion is that taking a big chunk out of our war machine will also be a significant step toward reducing oil use…

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