California Anti-Fracking Activists Plan Huge State Capitol Protest Saturday March 15

California may see the state’s largest anti-fracking rally on Saturday, March 15, in sacramwento on the state Capitol lawn starting at 1 PM. The organizers are hoping to reverse a new wave of gas drilling and extraction across the state. AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld talked to Linda Capato, Fracking Campaign Coordinator for about what is unfolding in California and what can be done.  

Steven Rosenfeld: What regulatory, executive branch, or legislative decisions have to be made before a new wave of fracking begins in CA?

Linda Capato: Nothing actually. Fracking is continuing largely still unregulated until 2015 at the earliest—when SB4 kicks in. The push groups are making is for someone to step in and pass a moratorium until 2015 at the very least and further to end the practice out right. SB4 calls for an impacts assessment but that won't be completed until 2015. That assessment informs the regulations that will start to kick in then…all the while fracking continues to expand in the state. 

Sb4 was proposed, amended, voted on and signed last year. That was Governor Brown's opportunity to veto a weak set of regulations and ask for something tougher. Instead it was business as usual and Gov. Brown signed. Again, fracking is continuing in California as it has for decades and continues to be largely unregulated until the regulations are decided on in 2015. Basically a bill passed saying the process was harmful, let’s start to reign it in... but then not enforce any changes for 2 years while it continues. Part of the reason we are calling on Governor Brown to take leadership is because he can sign an executive order place a moratorium on fracking.

Steven Rosenfeld:  How is the drought playing into this? I don’t understand how the Governor can declare a water emergency and then allow technologies that use as much water as this to go forward—unless there is some claim by industry of a magic water source. Doesn’t the drought put the brakes on this?  

Linda Capato: Well you’d think it would, but no, it hasn’t put the brakes on. For nothing else, placing a moratorium would be the responsible thing to do in regard to the drought, but no movement has been made on that. Of course the bill in the legislature is asking for a moratorium and it would be a huge step but obviously the Governor placing an executive order to stop fracking would be the best way to deal the drought long term. Especially as Gov. Brown and his adminstration are asking for citizens to conserve water and take responsiblity, there has been no public request for Big Oil and Gas to do the same.

Ultimately, fracking for and burning oil exacerbates climate change which worsens the drought conditions we have been dealing with for years. Not to mention the wildfires that we have also seen across the state.  We have towns concerned about where their water will come from and towns where their water is poisoned while Governor Brown stays silent on allowing fracking to continue. There has been a recent infographic/report from the industry that compared fracking water use to how much people wash their car in a day. Basically the same rhetoric every gas and oil company spins about how their work can be done safely and efficiently.

The bottom line is that fracking uses fresh water that we are in desperate need of. That water cannot be returned to circulation and is being used to extract a fossil fuel that will make this drought worse. The cycle is obvious and alarming. Governor Brown needs to make good on his climate record and end the practice.

(For more information on the rally, go to Don’ Buses and carpools from 20 California cities can be found here.)


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