Fracking protest against federal auction of California public lands
December 12, 2012.
By: Center for Biological Diversity
Dozens of protesters in hazmat suits carrying barrels labeled “Warning:
Toxic Fracking Fluid” rallied outside a federal auction Wednesday morning
against plans to lease more than 17,000 acres of California public land to
oil companies for drilling and fracking.
The Bureau of Land Management auction would open public land in three counties — Monterey, San Benito and Fresno — for oil drilling and fracking. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a highly polluting form of oil and gas extraction. Rep. Sam Farr
(D-Calif.) has urgedthe BLM to delay the auction over fracking concerns.
The demonstration was organized by the Center for Biological Diversity,
Clean Water Action, Food and Water Watch, Credo Action, 350.org, Earthworks
and Democracy for America.
“A fracking boom will devastate California’s beautiful public wildlands,”
said Rose Braz, climate campaign director at the Center for Biological
Diversity. “The federal government should protect these beautiful public
places, not sell them off to be drilled and fracked, risking irreparable
harm to our air, water and climate.”
“Opening up thousands of acres of public land to oil and gas exploration
would directly undercut our state’s commitment to clean and renewable
energy and endanger our already threatened water supply,” said Andrew
Grinberg, program organizer at Clean Water Action. “We need to slow down
and assess the long-term impacts of increased drilling, fracking and other
enhanced oil and gas recovery processes on California’s communities,
environment and health, and the BLM should do its part by withholding these
Ahead of the auction, Congressman Farr urged the BLM to delay the auction
until it can “ensure adequate safeguards” and address concerns raised by
Fracking is a highly polluting form of oil and gas extraction that involves
blasting huge volumes of water mixed with toxic chemicals and sand deep
into the earth to break up rock formations. Fracking has been tied to air
and water pollution; it threatens the climate by emitting large amounts of
methane and opening up new oil deposits. About 25 percent of fracking
chemicals could cause cancer, scientists say.
Recent advances in fracking are driving growing interest in California’s
Monterey Shale, a geological formation holding the largest shale oil
deposit in America. This formation, which underlies the BLM leases,
includes some of the country’s most productive farmland and important
Area farmers are concerned, said Paula Getzelman, president of the Southern
Monterey County Rural Coalition and owner of Tre Gatti Vineyards in
Lockwood, only 4.5 miles from one of the parcels being auctioned off.
“Many of us here in the San Antonio Valley understand the potential
seriousness of unregulated fracking activities, especially where it
concerns the quality and quantity of water,” Getzelman said. “Agriculture
depends on a consistent supply of untainted water, ranchers depend on water
for their animals and homeowners depend on clean, sweet water for
activities of daily living.”
About 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, while many
others harm the nervous, endocrine, immune and cardiovascular systems,
according to scientists. A recent study from the Colorado School of Public
Health found that fracking contributes to serious health problems in people
living near fracked wells.
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