‘Ban Fracking in California’ Campaign Fires up in Baldwin HillsBy Ari L. Noonan @ 4:00 PM May 15, 2012
With 30 ardently partisan, sign-hoisting, anti-fracking neighbors from the Baldwin Hills arrayed in a row as a backdrop, a filmmaker and a roster of hometown activists pleaded this afternoon with Gov. Brown to end the controversial, but not new, oil drilling method they portrayed as dangerous to all species on the planet.
The Ban Fracking in California campaign claimed that fracking not only is fatally harmful without redeeming qualities, but that it perpetuates what they regard as the regressive policy of extending the life and the perceived false values of fossil fuels
Shrewdly attaching an exclamation mark to their impressively articulated demands, laser-focused groups such as Food & Water Watch (.org) and Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community summoned the media to a Baldwin Hills oil field-adjacent setting that yields one of the grandest views of Los Angeles from on high.
Documentarian Josh Fox, who produced the anti-fracking film “Gasland,” and now is preparing “Gasland II,” was presented as the featured expert.
A onetime contractor, like the other speakers he battered away at the asserted perils of “hydraulic fracturing,” He seared into the much-bruised drilling method for the daily threats it purportedly causes to clean air and reasonable health.
Why It Should Be Banned
He was no more strident or informative about the 65-year-old form of oil drilling than the mistress of fairly elaborate ceremonies, Kristin Lynch, an officer of San Francisco-based Food & Water Watch. Her assignment was to scene-set.
“We are calling attention to fracking that is taking place in California, and the threat it poses to our water, air, land and property,” Ms. Lynch said.
“While fracking long has been used in California to stimulate oil production, this new generation of fracking, which drills deeper and longer, requires enormous amounts of water, uses known toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, creates much more toxic waste water and increases the disposal problem, it is largely an uncontrolled public health experiment.
“Fracking throughout the country has caused surface and groundwater contamination, air pollution and, ultimately, is contributing to global climate change.
“In addition to the public health and environmental issues, fracking is causing economic woes for communities, leaving plummeting property values in its wake.”
Paul Ferrazzi, executive director of four-year-old Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, criticized the lack of oversight in the state. “Hydraulic fracturing,” he said, “has gone on as an unregulated oil and gas well stimulation technique. Meanwhile, our regulatory agencies in California not only have been driving blind at their oversight responsibilities, they have been canoodling in the backseat with the oil and gas industry.”
Mr. Ferrazzi said that hydraulic fracture is “destructive and dangerous” for at least four reasons:
• “Its need for massive amounts of the limited resource of water.
• “Its use of chemicals that are endocrine system disruptors and known carcinogens.
• “Its potential to initiate seismic events in fault zones or ground movements.
• “Its contamination of ground and surface waters, and the risk of human exposure to a cocktail of airborne toxic chemicals.”
Earthquakes En Route?
Gary Gless, President of the Citizens Coalition, brought the danger home. “When we speak of hydraulic fracturing,” he said, “we are not just talking about shale fracking across the USA, but right here under our feet. Despite what (the local drilling company PXP) says, we are experiencing a multitude of issues since they ramped up production. The community is experiencing an inordinate amount of damage such as displaced streets, water main and fire hydrant breaks. Our schools and playgrounds have sinkholes and cracked foundations along with broken spirits throughout our neighborhoods.”
Noting that the two-mile long oil field is in the Newport-Inglewood fault zone, Mr. Gless said that “lubricating faults with water, injecting high pressure fluids deep into the ground is known to be able to trigger earthquakes to occur sooner than they would have. We all know we are far overdue. To allow (PXP) to poke explosive sticks (at the fault line) doesn’t make any sense.”
Although he largely was speaking to the choir, Mr. Fox, the filmmaker, told the assembled, “The best thing you can do is arm yourself with the facts.”
Attired in the director’s uniform of dark hoodie and Yankee baseball cap, he said that “if you were to burn all the possible fracking gas that is out there, it would be a disastrous situation in terms of climate change.”
Mr. Fox turned to one of his main claims. “We cannot move toward exploration of more fossil fuels,” he said. “This is true from every possible standpoint, from community, environmental justice issues, people being poisoned in their own communities, to global issues of climate change. It is just the wrong way to go.”