Frack Ban: Culver City Moves Ahead

Frack Ban: Culver City Moves Ahead

Last night, the Culver City Council unanimously passed a Resolution asking the State of California to ban hydraulic fracturing until it can be deemed safe for the environment.

The City of Culver City urges Governor Jerry Brown and the California State Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), to immediately place a moratorium ban on hydraulic fracturing and on the disposal of fracking wastewater by injection wells until DOGGR takes all necessary and appropriate actions to adopt, implement and enforce comprehensive regulations concerning the practice of fracking that will ensure that public health and safety and the environment will be adequately protected.

Words matter. The original resolution called for a moratorium… but after hearing from scores of residents over the last several months and reading many studies, reports, and articles, I made the motion to change the word moratorium in the resolution to ban.

image from “The Sky is Pink” by director Josh Fox – see film here

There is a lot more to be learned about hydraulic fracturing. There are countless facts to be found. The Council asks that the information be gathered, publicly vetted, peer-reviewed, science-based, that all the potential risks be examined thoroughly before moving forward with fracking in our State – and our City. If it can’t be proven safe, it can’t happen.

Hydraulic fracturing has significant potential to affect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the very ground we stand on. In regions across the U.S., the EPA, US Geological Survey, and countless peer-reviewed studies have shown that the fracking process has been the cause of water contamination, air pollution, and seismic activity.

To my knowledge, the largest urban oilfield in the U.S., the Inglewood Oil Field, has not yet been subject of comprehensive studies by the EPA or USGS that guarantee the safety of hydraulic fracturing. Yet the unique conditions on the ground should make our specific location subject to special study:

– The largest urban oilfield in the country, the large population means that the slightest accident will have maximum impact on human health & welfare – and economic impact on our many homes and businesses.

Water supply: we live in a drought-prone area with a scarcity of local water sources. Already largely dependent on imported water, we pay much more for water than most communities. Fracking is water-intensive – using millions of gallons of water that are mixed with chemicals, then pumped into the ground. Some of the chemical-laced water is recycled, some stays in the ground, some will be deliberately injected back into the ground, and some will be shipped off to be treated. (Where is is shipped? How is it treated?) Every stage of this process carries a risk of leaks, spills and contamination. Plus, the large amount of water involved cannot be used for domestic needs. If we lose the little water we have through contamination or overuse, we will become even more dependent on expensive, energy-intensive imported water, which has an environmental and monetary cost we can little afford.

Watershed: furthermore we are part of the sensitive Ballona Creek Watershed – which has taken years and millions of dollars to begin restoring. This waterway empties into the Santa Monica Bay, which has equally been a focus point for major on-going clean-up efforts. The Inglewood Oil Field is adjacent this watershed. In fact, just this year there was a leak of a poorly abandoned well from a previous oil company, necessitating the closure of the Culver City Dog Park, uphill from the Creek. Further, PXP has previously submitted plans that include horizontal drilling directly under La Ballona Creek. Ground water contamination from fracking as well as surface leakage in this extremely sensitive area must be studied thoroughly before fracking can take place.

Earthquakes: the oil field is on an active 7.4 magnitude fault line. The US Geological Survey has already linked earthquakes to water-injection (part of the fracking process). Even if this weren’t the case, it still remains to be proven whether the well casings can withstand the naturally occurring earthquakes in this region. We need to see real data in order to make the determination whether this practice is suitable for this area.

Climate Change & air quality: our city has taken considerable steps to improve our air and water quality, reduce greenhouse gases and introduce sustainable measures in its schools, public buildings and homes. How much C02, methane or other gasses are released during the entire fracking process (trucking materials to & from the site, heavy machinery onsite, chemical preparation & transport, frack job itself, ongoing oil extraction, frack fluid transport & disposal)? Are these in compliance with CA’s climate targets?

Finally, California’s regulatory agency DOGGR (Division of Oil Gas & Geothermal Resources), has publicly admitted existing regulations are inadequate, therefore they are currently adapting new rules, specific to the practice of fracking.

It is for these, and many other reasons that I support the Resolution to ask Governor Brown & DOGGR to place a ban of fracking until it can be proven safe with comprehensive, publicly-vetted, regulations and enforcement measures in place.

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