Los Angeles City Council members push fracking ban
On Wednesday, three members of the Los Angeles City Council introduced a resolution that urges Gov. Jerry Brown and California regulators to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until the state determines that the controversial oil extraction procedure is "safe for public health, for the Los Angeles water supply and for the environment."
The measure, authored by councilmen Paul Koretz, Herb Wesson and Bernard C. Parks, comes as state regulators begin to draft rules for the process, which involves injecting chemical-laced water and sand deep into the ground to tap oil.
Environmentalists and community activists have raised concerns about potential environmental and public health hazards, including contaminated drinking water. The oil industry counters that firms have used fracking for decades without incident throughout California, including the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles, which is home to the largest urban oil field in the country.
Much of the anxiety stems from the fact that, unlike other oil-producing states, California does not require oil companies to disclose where they use the procedure or what chemicals they inject into the ground. In the absence of statewide fracking rules, local governments have been rushing to develop their own ordinances as they discover oil companies using the technique in their communities.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people turned out for a community meeting in Culver City, where regulators had hoped to gather public comment as they begin to draft regulations. Instead, for the better part of three hours, resident after resident stepped up to a podium to urge the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to ban fracking altogether.
Many invoked the Love Canal neighborhood of New York, the country's most notorious toxic waste site.
"Do not let Culver City enter the history books as a name for another environmental disaster," said Crystal Alexander, the city's former treasurer.
Industry representatives said that the process was safe and that the state already "aggressively regulates" oil wells.
When regulators said they had asked oil companies to voluntarily report where they frack and what chemicals they use, the crowd laughed. "We don't have reporting. We know that," said Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of the California Department of Conservation. "We need it."
Oil regulators were set to host another community meeting in Long Beach on Wednesday night, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the student union of Cal State Long Beach.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A gas pipeline juts from the landscape at a farm outside Dimock, Pa. Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA