Two Dissenters at DOGGR Hearing Say Shame on the CrowdBy Ari L. Noonan @ 9:00 AM June 14, 2012
Anti-fracking fever has raged across Culver City with the force of a punishing hurricane in recent days, and now it is the turn of the other side.
Two critics recovering from Tuesday night’s state commission hearing in Council Chambers say that this unorthodox form of oil drilling may or may not be dangerous, but that the anti crowd failed to illuminate or make its case at the wildly emotional hearing.
They are a middle-aged couple who were among the charged up sign-waving overflow crowd that squeezed in before the doors were closed.
“The crowd wanted a ban on fracking, and they weren’t interested in hearing anything else from DOGGR (Dept. of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources),” said the husband.
Visiting Unhappy Residents
The DOGGR panel is on a statewide listening tour to hear the complaints of communities about fracking and a need for tighter control from the state.
The couple was “heavily disappointed” with the way the hyper-behaving, “one-track” audience spoke “without listening to the experts.” In disgust, they bailed early because the tone had become too shrill and repetitive.
Unhappily, they said, the huge majority of speakers merely mimicked each other, without acknowledging or responding to what drilling experts had said at the outset of the 3½-hour community meeting.
“The head of DOGGR said that it is not true, as has been claimed, that the state of California doesn’t regulate fracking,” the wife said. “Many of the states that recently have adopted fracking regulations have focused primarily on the integrity of well-casings. In California, our regulations for well -casings already are stricter than those being adopted elsewhere.”
The distinctions, she said, may be subtle, especially when dealing with an emotional crowd in a heated, closed-in setting.
Provisions Are in Place
“Even though we don’t have regulations that specifically say ‘these are fracking regulations,’ we do have regulations that deal with the same things these new fracking laws in other states do. I thought that was an interesting comment.”
Then it was the husband’s turn.
“So the man from DOGGR went on to say ‘we understand that more needs to be done. There is no compulsory reporting. We agree that is absolutely essential. We are going to require that.’
“He said they had come to Culver City (and other communities) because we have been hearing suggestions that we had not thought about. He said ‘we are looking for input as to what you think should be put into the regulations.’
“It was a really impressive presentation that probably would have been better if he had not been trying to compress a 35-minute presentation into 15 minutes to allow the crowd more time,” said the husband.
He laughed heartily when he was asked if the audience had been mollified by the end of the evening.
“Ninety-five percent of the speakers said the same thing – ‘We need to ban fracking.’ I am no expert. Maybe that is the correct way to go. But invariably the speakers then would give reasons that, factually, were completely contrary to what the DOGGR people had said earlier.
“I don’t know who is right. But if the state agency says the facts are A-B-C and you say the facts are completely different and we need to do X-Y-Z, you need to address the inconsistency and say why you think they are wrong. No one did that. Speakers just kept repeating, ‘It’s dangerous. We can’t do this,’ which doesn’t get you anywhere.”