The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Beverly Hills Becomes First City in California to Pass Fracking Ban
On Tuesday night, Beverly Hills became the first city in California to pass a ban on fracking and related extreme well stimulation techniques with a unanimous vote. The ordinance not only would make it unlawful to use hydraulic fracturing, acidizing or any other well stimulation technique from any surface area in the city—it also prohibits these activities from any site outside city limits that would drill and extract oil and gas underneath the city. The ordinance will now return to the Beverly Hills City Council for its final reading at an upcoming formal meeting where a second vote will put the law into effect.
“I do believe in local control, and we are exerting our power as a city to say fracking is not a compatible land use in Beverly Hills,” said Councilmember John Mirsch. “But this issue goes beyond that. This is not a ‘not in my backyard issue’—it should not be in anyone’s back yard. And we also need to think long-term, even if our city is not a center of drilling—injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals at high pressure into the earth can't be good. Asbestos and smoking was once also considered safe. Fracking is not worth the risk.”
All four councilmembers in attendance voted in favor of the ban including Mayor Lili Bosse, Vice Mayor Julian A. Gold M.D., Councilmember John A. Mirsch and Councilmember William W. Brien M.D.
“We congratulate the Beverly Hills City Council for passing a ban on fracking and related toxic extraction techniques. Given its proximity to oil and gas activity, it makes sense for Beverly Hills to join the growing number of cities and counties that have acted to protect their residents from severe health, safety and environmental impacts,” said Brenna Norton, Southern California organizer of Food & Water Watch. “We look forward to seeing this ordinance take effect and setting a positive example for other communities and Gov. Brown, who should immediately enact a statewide moratorium to protect all Californians.”
Food & Water Watch has organized support for efforts to restrict fracking across California since launching its campaign to ban fracking in the state in May of 2012.
Many other local governments have also recently recognized that these production methods pose an unacceptable risk to the general public welfare of citizens, and an immediate halt to these practices is needed to safeguard our air, water, health and climate. Carson and Santa Cruz County have already put a temporary prohibition on oil and gas activity in place, and many other localities have begun the process of drafting ordinances (such as Los Angeles, Compton and Culver City) or passing voter initiatives (such as San Benito County and Butte County) that will prohibit certain types of oil and gas activity.
In addition to Beverly Hills residents, residents from Los Angeles already affected by extraction activities—West Adams, Figueroa Corridor and Carson—spoke at the meeting to stand in solidarity with Beverly Hills residents fighting for a fracking ban.
“The City Council's vote to ban hydraulic fracturing, acidization and well-stimulation treatments in the city of Beverly Hills is a step in the right direction,” said Ashley Kissinger, project manager from Esperanza Community Housing Corporation. “At the AllenCO site in South Los Angeles, residents have felt the effects of spontaneous nose bleeds, lingering headaches, chronic fatigue, dizziness and loss of smell for three years. Families have been in and out of emergency rooms due to these burdening symptoms, which are all relative to chronic exposures to hydrocarbons. The city of Beverly Hills gives us hope that more cities, in California and nationwide, will initiate similar bans and prioritize the community's health over potential profit.”
Lead volunteer activist on the campaign Lauren Steiner, who has lived and worked in and adjacent to Beverly Hills for 28 years, praised the vote, saying she is “thrilled that the Beverly Hills City Council has seen through the false dichotomy put forth by Big Oil: in order to have energy independence and jobs, we must frack. They placed the health and safety of their constituents first. I only wish Gov. Brown would do the same and ban fracking in the state. He should support Stanford professor Mark Jacobson's plan for California to be 100 percent dependent on clean, renewable energy by 2030. That's how we get real independence from dirty energy sources and many more jobs."
On Monday, the Los Angeles Times editorial board called for a statewide moratorium on fracking until regulators have a better understanding of the seismic impacts a drilling boom could have on the Monterey Shale. The U.S. Geological Survey has reported a link between earthquakes and fracking wastewater injection, including a 5.6-magnitude quake that struck Oklahoma in 2011.
Polls show that the majority of Californians are opposed to fracking. Since the launch of Californians Against Fracking in May 2013, more than 200,000 petitions have been signed urging Gov. Brown to ban fracking in California. Farmers, environmental justice groups, public health advocates, local elected officials, students, celebrities and many others are calling on Gov. Brown to halt fracking in California.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.
A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.
The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.
By Wudan Yan
In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."
On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.