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Fracking Los Angeles: What Life Is Like on the Country's Biggest Urban Oilfield

Unregulated fracking is happening in Los Angeles communities and residents are taking action and raising their voices in protest.

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SA: When did you first become aware of the fracking happening in your neighborhood?

MB: Well, we were promised that it wasn't going to happen by, like, I said early in the meeting, by a representative from a government agency in this county. But I became aware that something was going on about, maybe, two years ago through Citizens Coalition about fracking. But we were told it wasn't happening. And now, to be told that it is is very, very disturbing.

SA: And as a nurse, so you have taken care of people who have lung cancer as a nurse. If you could share with us, what risks are we talking about? What adverse health impacts?

MB: Well, the risk is our life. We could die. That is the ultimate risk. The ultimate risk is that we can die, not to mention the suffering that we will endure before we die. We should not have to apologize to people 30 years from now. When I say, "we" -- members of the community, members of the elected officials, should not have to come 30 years from now and apologize for the wrong that was brought on a community. We should do something about it now.

SA: And Margaret, what does your community mean to you? You mentioned you're a community organizer. You've lived here for over 30 years. So, what does it mean, and what is this threat now of fracking?

MB: My community is everything to me. This is where I raised my two wonderful American sons. This is where I drive down the street and people wave to me. I enjoy that. This is where I go to the supermarket and the tellers know who I am. This is where I go to the gas station.

I have lived here in the days when there was somebody pumping our gas when we go to the gas station, and I remember during the oil embargo in the '70s that I would pull up to the gas station when there were lines of people coming from everywhere to get gas, but the gas station attendant knew me from the community, and I got my gas.

I believe in community. I believe in supporting the community, buying in the community, and us all living healthily as one community. And I don't want anything, whether it's oil and gas, or anything, changing that for the worse. I want our community to improve, not decline, at the hands of others.

SA: What is the next step, then, in this fight to stop fracking in your community?

MB: The next step is, with massive education of the members of the community, with the recognition by elected officials that we are serious, that this is an important issue to us, that we will get something done, and that we could stop what's happening. But it will take a massive effort, and we cannot be cowardly; we cannot be afraid, because when you're afraid ... There's really nothing to fear but fear itself, and when you're afraid, that's when the powers that be and the people that want to bring harm to you -- maybe they don't willingly want to bring harm to you, but money is a dangerous thing, and there's a lot of money in the oil and gas business.

So, don't be afraid. Just organize, speak up, and get things done for your community. We're not going anywhere. Have you seen the beautiful areas that we're talking about? Lovely areas. But what lurks beneath is deadly.

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