Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles City Council unanimously supported a motion for a moratorium on fracking this morning after over 100 presentations were made by residents whose complaints ranged from nose bleeds, to headaches, to cracks in their homes associated with when fracking began in the city. Many of the citizens were organized by Californians against Fracking, Americans against Fracking, 350, Credo, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club CA, Physicians for Social Responsibility LA and other various neighborhood groups who sought representation by City Councilman Paul Koretz District 5 with co-author Bonin District 11. Mayor Eric Garcetti has 10 days to sign to make the motion an ordinance.
Councilman Koretz stated, "Unregulated fracking is crazy- we have seen the danger of earthquakes take place in states that normally don't have earthquakes, and now we are taking what causes earthquakes where they normally don't happen, to a place where they do happen."
Koretz continued, "Just wasting this water [used for fracking- as much as millions of gallons per well] is a bad idea already, but turning it into toxic water is absolute insanity. People are getting sick, their homes are cracking; it makes no sense to continue."
Co-author Bonin supported the motion by saying, "This is about neighborhood safety, environmental justice, and about common sense. The term 'fracking' refers to fracturing, in an area riddled with earthquakes. This is energy production by Dr Stangelove, this is an experimental technology wildly unregulated by the state."
Linda Capato 350 National Fracking Campaign Coordinator was excited, "Clearly momentum is building in California. After a year of wildfire and record breaking drought, people are realizing that fracking should have no place in our state's energy future. Today the LA City Council took the first big step to ban fracking in California's largest city. Governor Brown should follow their lead. Thousands of Californians will be in Sacramento on March 15th pushing the Governor to stop fracking and to protect our communities and climate."
Governor Brown no response yet
Today's decision comes just three weeks before a giant anti-fracking rally in Sacramento intended to pressure Governor Jerry Brown into reversing course and honoring his commitments to water conservation, a safer environment, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. No notice of the Governor's position was evident other than a lack of acknowledgment @govjerrybrown where only a picture of the Governor taking out papers for re-election could be found, and while @govpressoffice showed also no response. Communications staff did not have a statement prepared.
However, clean energy advocates are claiming yet another victory; albeit luke warm, in transitioning off finite fossil fuels and onto clean, with the move of former Clean Energy Advisor to the governor Michael Picker, to Commissioner of the CPUC, who immediately upon entering office just this past week, moved for a study to take the state to 40% RPS by 2024, that had previously been set at 2030.
A National, Worldwide Trend
The vote today comes on the heels of a growing trend of home and land owners becoming 'fractivists.' The trend of resistance to this oil and gas industry practice goes back to 2005, when Vice President Dick Cheney managed to pass a loophole in the Clean Water Act to excuse the new technology of fracking from safe drinking water laws. The Sierra Club New York Chapter claims notes back to 2008 on the subject, while the first ban in the United States began with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvannia in 2010. Then, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, various cities such as Dallas, TX; and recently 3 cities in Colorado, then also came on board. An updated list is kept by the Keep Tap Water Safe organization.
Recalling the first ban in the nation, Gloria Forouzan, a proud Pittsburg, PA resident writes, "We had a forward looking, highly intelligent City Councilman named Douglas Shields who did the homework, learned what lunacy fracking is and set about working to get a fracking ban passed. At the same time, a group of Pittsburgh residents created the grassroots group Marcellus Protest, I am a founding member. We educated people and engaged them in lobbying their council members. The ban passed unanimously! We are the 1st city in the world to ban fracking and we sit atop the Marcellus Shale."
Bill McKibben as fractivist instigator
Activists were fired up the evening before in a webcast as Bill McKibben founder 350, was joined by Becky Bond, Vice President and Political Director of CREDO, and three activists, Rodrigo Romo, Anabel Marquez and Javier Cruz from the area outside Bakersfield where most of the state’s well stimulation activity is currently taking place a few hours drive down Highway 5, where San Benito Uprising residents are getting ready to pass what Communications Director Kate Woods says will be the first ban on fracking in a front line district; Santa Cruz having placed the first city ban in the state following the County of Marin Supervisor's vote; though these two latter are not actually being fracked, whereas San Benito County is.
Bill McKibben fired up the fractivists with “If political leaders keep indulging the oil and gas industry in their endless search for new energy sources, the planet is toast. We know fracking draws down water from an already drought-ridden state, pours toxic chemicals into the environment, and is a climate disaster. Governor Brown knows this too, and it’s time for him to act accordingly.”
Recent UCSB Physics graduate Damien Luzzo explained that fracking is just an indication that oil and gas are no longer as easy to get as they once were and that these unconventional methods of getting at it will not only eventually cost us more but that, "the burning of fossil fuels in general causes climate change, that threatens California’s way of life. Additionally, given the long term megadrought, the shrinking of the Sierra ice and snowpack, wildfires, and sea level rise along California’s iconic coast, scientific consensus has asserted that 80% of the world’s known fossil fuels must be left in the ground to avoid further climate destabilization and warming the planet beyond 2º C – a tipping point for our climate."
Fractivists aren't resting after today's victory however, the next step for fractivists will be a visit from well-known Hollywood environmental activist Daryl Hannah and more than 50 organizations are gearing up for the Don't Frack California rally in Sacramento Saturday, March 15.