Coalition presses for fracking ban in California

The Wisconsin Gazette

A coalition of more than 100 mayors, city council members and other local officials from dozens of communities want California Gov. Jerry Brown to halt fracking to protect the water supply from contamination during a devastating drought.

In a letter to the Democratic governor, the coalition warns that fracking and other dangerous oil production techniques “will exacerbate many of our environmental threats, particularly local air and water pollution and climate disruption.”

“Fracking pollution threatens the air we breathe and the water we drink, and Latino communities are especially at risk,” said Robert Rivas, San Benito County supervisor and supporter of San Benito County’s new fracking ban. “Thousands of Latino children in California go to school near fracked oil wells. We need Gov. Brown to halt fracking to give every child in California a better chance at a healthy life.”

The officials’ letter, which highlights fracking pollution’s threats to California’s water during a devastating drought, comes after state regulators admitted allowing the oil industry to dump billions of gallons of oil waste into protected underground water supplies across the state, from Monterey to Kern and Los Angeles counties.

About half of all new wells in California are fracked, according to the California Council on Science and Technology. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the dangerous process of blasting enormous quantities of water laced with toxic chemicals into the ground to release oil and gas. It has been linked to air and water pollution across the country.

Fracking in California has generated vast volumes of wastewater that contains high levels of cancer-causing benzene and other dangerous chemicals, according to oil companies’ own tests. Toxic oil waste fluid is also being dumped into unlined pits and used to irrigate crops in the Central Valley.

Citing the need to protect communities and public health, the letter urges Brown to put a moratorium on fracking pending further study of air and water pollution and the damage to the climate caused by the controversial technique.