Environmental activists representing SanDiego350.org assembled downtown on Tuesday, May 14, to confront governor Jerry Brown — here on a visit —and to urge support of SB 1132, which would ban a controversial method of extracting natural gas.
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," involves drilling a deep well into the ground near a natural gas or oil deposit. Once drilled, the well is pumped with a high-pressure mix of water, sand, and chemical compounds in order to break up underground rock formations and allow the gas to flow back into the well.
Environmentalists raise numerous concerns regarding the practice. Large volumes of water are required for a fracking operation, and wastewater is often disposed of in a manner in that could restlt in it being released back into community water supplies — oil companies have declined to disclose the exact chemical content of the waste, alleging "trade secrets." Fracking operations in the Midwest have also been tied to increased earthquake activity; seismic shifts were previously considered rare.
"At the April Balboa Earth Day fair I had a woman from Oklahoma City approach me at our SanDiego350 booth," said group representative Nicole Peill-Moelter. "She said she was very aware of fracking because they started having earthquakes of magnitude 4.8 and higher once fracking operations started there…. I would think that, of all people, Californians would want to understand the risks of earthquakes induced by fracking before we allow it. But it’s already happening."
Emily Wier, another SanDiego350 volunteer, spoke about concerns over contaminating the state's water supply — already limited due to extreme drought.
"It’s vital to our multibillion dollar agricultural industry, our health, and well-being. Why would we want to allow fracking, which irreversibly contaminates this very water supply?"
The group says other negative impacts of fracking include increased air pollution, contributions to climate change from expanded gas extraction, and a likely decline in property values in areas affected by the mining industry.
Activists said that although they were acknowledged by Brown at coordinated demonstrations in Los Angeles, Sacramento, as well as locally, he was "short on specifics" in offering support for anti-fracking legislation.