Los Angeles is Banning Fracking!
On Friday, February 28, 2014, the Los Angeles City Council approved a moratorium on “hydraulic fracturing, acidization, and gravel packing” (a.k.a. fracking) within city limits on a unanimous 10-0 vote. The Council directed City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office to draft a zoning ordinance banning fracking in L.A, and will hold a final vote once the zoning ordinance has been drafted. So far, no deadline has been set for the City Attorney to draft the ordinance.
Los Angeles Waterkeeper staff, volunteers, and members have been concerned about the escalating use of hydraulic fracturing in Los Angeles and adjacent cities. Instead of ensuring public safety and environmental health by conducting peer-reviewed scientific studies on the effects of the relatively new methods of hydraulic fracturing, regulators have let oil companies proceed mostly unchecked. Oil producing companies are very, very, very excited about the expected profits from combining hydraulic fracturing, acidization, directional drilling, and more to produce oil and gas that was previously unrecoverable. Many companies stand to make a lot of money by way of fracking, with a few U.S. billionaires already emerging from the use of ‘fracking.’
There is a dark side to this recent U.S. oil boom that is progressively being unveiled. Scientists and agencies are slowly uncovering the negative effects on public health, environment health, property values, and geological integrity from increased seismic activity.
We don’t know all of the chemicals oil companies are exposing us to when they frack in our neighborhoods yet, but we know enough to know we don’t want them in our air or in our water. Hundreds of chemicals are used in fracking, and of the ones we know, more than 75% can affect the sensory organs and respiratory system; 52% can harm the nervous system; 40% can affect the immune system; and 25% can cause cancer.
Over a thousand instances of water contamination from fracking have been documented around the country. Spills and leaks are commonplace. Fracking poses unacceptable risks to L.A.’s water. Fracking also increases air pollution, including ozone precursors and air toxins. In addition, fracking may be causing tremors and earthquakes, a bad combination with existing faults underneath the streets of Los Angeles.
And fracking is not just happening in LA. California’s most vulnerable communities are the most threatened by fracking. Halting fracking is the only way to address these urgent environmental justice issues. Los Angeles Waterkeeper supports a statewide moratorium on fracking until peer-reviewed scientific literature proves that it isn’t threatening our people and environment.
ExxonMobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, has recently joined a lawsuit to keep fracking away from his ranch in Texas. He said he’s not against it, just doesn’t want it near his home. Too much industrial activity, and it could lower the value of his property. He officially joined the Society of Citizens Really Enraged When Encircled by Drilling (SCREWED).
Dallas, TX has effectively stopped fracking in their city; five cities in Colorado have banned it; Vermont has banned it; but L.A. is the first oil producing city in California to ban it. I Love L.A.! Many other cities and even some states are in the process of banning right now. Los Angeles is providing real leadership and hopefully other cities will follow suit. Before we continue to drill, drill, drill, it is critical to wait for the objective investigative process to determine the truth on fracking impacts. Let’s keep this new drilling process away from places where people need to live and work. Watch our website and social media for important updates on the ordinance and final vote of L.A. City Council.
-Brian Meux, Marine Programs Manager