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Californians Urge State Regulators to Ban Fracking

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Californians Urge State Regulators to Ban Fracking

Center for Biological Diversity

More than 150 Californians demonstrated against fracking on the evening of July 25 in downtown Sacramento, Calif. Photo by Center for Biological Diversity.

More than 150 Californians demonstrated against fracking on the evening of July 25 in downtown Sacramento, Calif. Protestors from as far away as Culver City spoke out against this controversial oil and gas drilling technique, which is increasingly common in California, at a rally outside the state Department of Conservation’s final fracking workshop.

Inside the workshop, physicians, homeowners and environmental advocates told state officials that fracking, which is currently unregulated and unmonitored in California, could pollute the state’s water and air and threaten human health and endangered species.

A homeowner from Santa Maria expressed grave concerns about the health threats he and his wife may face from fracking in the oil wells being drilled less than a mile from his house. A physician from the Culver City area spoke about the carcinogenic properties of benzene and other industrial chemicals used in fracking fluid.

Representatives from several environmental organizations discussed the air pollution and global warming threats posed by fracking, which often releases large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“The fracking boom is a significant threat to California’s environment and public health,” said Rose Braz, climate campaign director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Many people know that fracking can foul the water, pollute the air and threaten endangered wildlife. But fracking’s dirty little secret is the amount of greenhouse gas pollution it emits. If oil companies frack the 15 billion barrels of oil in the Monterey Shale, we’ll be lighting the fuse on a carbon bomb that will shatter our state’s efforts to fight global warming.”

State officials told the crowd that draft fracking regulations could be released for public comment in about two months. California lawmakers are also debating legislative efforts to regulate fracking, but many speakers at yesterday's event, including Braz on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, said that fracking should simply be banned.

Fracking is currently taking place in at least nine California counties, from Glenn County in the north to Monterey County on the coast to Los Angeles County in the south. Those nine counties are home to more than 100 endangered and threatened species of plants and animals, including the iconic California Condor and the San Joaquin kit fox.

The fracking rally’s sponsors included the Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens for a Safe Community, Clean Water Action, Credo Action, Earthworks Action, Environment California, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Planning and Conservation League.

Visit EcoWatch's FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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