Letter: Local Leaders Should Address Fracking

By Joanna Clark, San Juan Capistrano

For the past eight months, the Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel have been examining what Texas, the nation’s biggest oil-producing state, has done to protect its residents living near the Eagle Ford Shale from the industry’s pollutants.

What’s happening at Eagle Ford is important not only for Texas, but also for California, Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and other states where horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have made it profitable to extract oil and gas from deeply buried shale.

Fracking and acidizing, which are used to recover oil and gas from shale formation, as well as the use of injection wells for the storage of waste water and fluids, threaten our water supplies. Add the extended severe to exceptional droughts we are experiencing and runaway population growth and we’re on the fast track to a major catastrophe. Our water supplies are now threatened beyond anything California has experienced in more than 100 years. Our Governor, as well as a number of our elected officials in the state legislature, support the expansion of fracking throughout California, in essence, guaranteeing catastrophe.

During the past two years, several nations, many U.S. states, and other domestic and foreign municipalities have placed a ban or moratorium on fracking, including: France, Germany, Bulgaria, South Africa, Ireland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Vermont, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. A long list of towns, cities and districts in California to do the same include, but are not limited to: Arroyo Grande; Berkeley, Carson; Culver City; Fairfax; Los Angeles; Los Angeles Community College District; Mar Vista Community Council; Marin County; Rampart Village Neighborhood Council; San Luis Obispo; and Santa Cruz County.

Efforts to get San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and Dana Point to join this growing list of towns and adopt the following resolution have pretty much fallen on deaf ears. Why is it so difficult to get a simple statement that we “have a right to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of our environment” added to our local regulations?

“It is hereby resolved that the people of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. have a right to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. San Juan Capistrano’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the city of San Juan Capistrano conserves and maintains them for the benefit of all the people. Therefore, it is resolved that the technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to recover oil and gas from shale formation, acidizing, as well as the use of injection wells for the storage of fracking waste water and fluids, are permanently banned within the city limits of San Juan Capistrano and adjacent ocean.”

All you need to do is write your city council representative and tell them to protect our water supply, air and environment and support the ban on fracking.

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13 Responses to “Letter: Local Leaders Should Address Fracking”

  1. Joanna Clark
    March 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    If you’re not a resident of San Juan Capistrano, just substitute your city’s name for San Juan Capistrano throughout the above resolution and ask your City Council to enact it.

    • Rena Chevalier
      April 3, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      Great letters in the past and now, I am sure they will continue in the future! Wow she is so knowledgeable on this subject. And all the reading I am doing now on the subject shows it is correct. I do a lot of fact checking.

      • Denise
        April 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

        As a regular reader and researcher on the topic of fracking, I know what Joanna Clark states is very factual and true. Residents of California can no longer continue to take their water quality and supply for granted, especially with the major drought issues that we are currently facing now and that we will continue to deal with in the future on a long-term basis. We need to send a clear message to Sacramento to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing for good!

  2. Chuck Buck
    March 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I strongly support Joanna Clark’s letter to the Dispatch. Even without the likely pollution of our water supply by fracking, California’s water supply is facing major threats. Continuing droughts are predicted for the state. The Colorado River has been drying up over the past decade due to reduced rainfall in the Rockies. The Sierra snowpack is at an all-time low for this time of year, threatening the runoff we need for the State Water Project which brings much of our imported water from the north. And the Sacramento Delta is threatened by increasing salination and the possibility of seismic disruption and erosion of levees. We Californians have always taken our water for granted. Let us not introduce the additional threat of hydraulic fracturing to our water supply. The documentary films, Gasland and Gasland 2, clearly demonstrated what happened in Pennsylvania and Ohio when gas companies started fracking near water wells on ranches and housing tracts. People’s wells became toxic fountains, making drinking water undrinkable. It can happen in California. Please, San Juan Capo, let us stand up to the oil and gas industry. Ban fracking.

  3. Lynn Smith
    March 29, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    As researchers are starting to link earthquakes with fracking in Texas and surrounding states, we in Southern California just experienced our third quake in one month. Let’s hope the local communities pay attention and do what they can to ban this needless and largely unregulated practice.

  4. cynthia curran
    March 29, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    There is little oil in South Orange County,anyway Most of it is in Bakersfield or more even in the La area.

    • Joanna Clark
      March 31, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      Hi Cynthia,

      You are correct, “[t]here is little oil in South Orange County,” but that is not the issue. Where does our water come from? Most of it passes through some of the most dense hydraulic fracturing sites in the state, where it is siphoned off by the oil companies. That is where the threat is.

      The bulk of our water comes to us through the State Water Project. Locally it is distributed to us via the Metropolitan Water District (MWD). We also draw water from the Colorado river basin. Droughts throughout the southwest, however, are taking their toll virtually everywhere in the state and surrounding areas. As Dr. Buck points out above ‘The Colorado River has been drying up over the past decade due to reduced rainfall in the Rockies. The Sierra snow pack is at an all-time low for this time of year, threatening the runoff we need for the State Water Project which brings much of our imported water from the north. And the Sacramento Delta is threatened by increasing salination and the possibility of seismic disruption and erosion of levees.”

      Fracking a single well can consume 54 to 90 million gallons of water. It takes this water from both agriculture and our fresh water drinking supply. As a result, food prices are escalating as water for our crops are lost to the drought and fracking. And now we have to factor in the “possibility of seismic disruption and erosion of levees.” In the word of the Apollo 13 astronauts, “HOUSTON “WE HAVE A PROBLEM.”

      Up to 1000 new wells are planned according to Kern county newspapers. That will push the amount of water consumed by fracking upwards to 54 to 90 BILLION gallons. In other words, hydraulic fracturing, acidizing and injection wells are a threat to our water supply.

      How long can you live without water? What will happen to your property values if the MWD can no longer meet our water requirements? In Texas there are towns that are out of water because of fracking, and now it is beginning to happen here in California. We simply cannot afford to waste our most precious resource on fracking and injection well technology.

      What’s wrong with a resolution that says “we have a right to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of our environment”? That is the message the above resolution will send to Sacramento if we can get our City Council to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, and injection wells within the city limits of not just San Juan Capistrano, but all our cities.

  5. cynthia curran
    March 29, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    F racking is so popular because Texas has lowered its unemployment rate about 2 percent lower than it would otherwise.

    • Joanna Clark
      April 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      Hi, again, Cynthia. I think you’ll find that unemployment has little to do with fracking being popular in Texas. The popularity comes from farmers struggling because of the drought being offered thousands of dollars to allow drillers onto their property. They drink the “Fracking is Safe Kool AID,” and sign away their rights. Dr. Buck mentioned two excellent films – “Gasland” and “Gasland, Part 2″. I recommend everyone watch them.

      Physicians, Scientists, Engineers for Healthy Energy offers some excellent free CME courses about fracking at http://www.psehealthyenergy.org/COURSES

  6. Roberta Kinsey
    April 8, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    The oil and gas industry has created a massive public relations campaign to equate fracking with energy independence. Meanwhile, Big Gas has worked behind closed doors to open up export facilities to ship gas abroad. These exports will create huge oil and gas profits, but will do so at the cost of a dramatic increase in fracking. Fracking has already poisoned wells, leaked flammable methane into homes and tap water, increased global warming pollution and even caused earthquakes.

    I believe it is important that our City Councils enact Joanna Clark’s resolution. Clean air and clean water are far more important to us that oil profits.

  7. Ana Sandoval
    April 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Last week, Butte County Supervisors voted to move forward with a ban on fracking — making it the first county in CA to do so! If only our elected officials here could see the importance of banning fracking.

  8. Tara Suryamani
    April 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Hi Joanna,
    Thanks for posting another important reminder about our issues with suggestions of what we can all do and how we need to change. We benefit from having scientific understanding of what is going on wrt fracking, our water issues and other dire environmental issues. Thanks for writing and posting. You are a wonderful beacon for us all.

    We humans are all in this mess together, whether we like it our not, whether we agree with each other or not, or whether we are considered part of the “haves or have-nots.” Absolute power can and does corrupt absolutely! Never in my 6+ decades did I EVER image such a potentially catastrophic state on the earth and humans as we face now, but unlike other geological eras of mass extinctions, how many of those extinctions was Homo sapiens’ ignorance, greed, psychopathy, destructiveness and sleeping consciousness directly contributing to that extinction?

    I have always loved science and teaching science for the past four decades, but never before have I feared the misuse of science-technology so much by those whose hearts are closed, who lack empathy and who do not understand, care about or respect natural law, the earth and the life forms we share this planet with! They do not get the big picture, and or if they, do they do not care about the big picture and the ripples that go out to the rest of the planet and back to THEMSELVES and “what goes around comes around!”

    We are responsible for all our thoughts, words, feelings and behaviors even in our ignorance and innocence. These are all choices we make in each moment. To not make a choice is a choice. But the scenarios we face are HUGE now. If it is too overwhelming, if we feel like we can’t have an uplifting impact, we can work on small local levels. Remember the bumper sticker “think globally, act locally!?” We can each use the unique gifts and skills we have to help others in some small way, even help our self somehow. It is tough out there and if we cant work specifically about fracking or water or drought, there are other ways to help! Most citizens are not scientifically minded, but even without high levels of scientific understanding, most can tell that things are messed up.

    Empathy is available to all. It has been said that children as young as two have empathy and it has been said that the Hopi people have the highest level of empathy around. I am happy to say that in my circles of friends and family, that I see empathy expanding, exploding and opening, even if it seems that a huge number of people on this planet have not remembered their empathy!

    What we may witness in terms of the global suffering here (all life forms, not just humans) in the next few decades is overwhelming to me to ponder and empathize sometimes, but I drag myself out of my funks and find a love based, not fear based, way of being and living. Each and every day or moment I can check in with my heart, the real me, to see if I am THERE. All this is scary to many, but we “can keep on keeping on” with faith and hope and love, regardless of the scenarios that we could face in the very near future! Sometimes I fear for my children and grand children’s fate, all life here, but I do also realize that mass extinctions are part of cosmological natural law too and that I am not The Controller of this cosmos, earth, etc. Planets come and planets go, species come and species go, universes come and universes go. Maybe mass extinction here is meant to be near, part of “these times,” maybe not! Regardless, life here, as we know it, will and is and must change! But how accountable are each of us for the role we each played in all this? We all contribute to planetary degradation. But one has to CHOSE to be part of planetary maintenance! Maintenance is part of protection, care, cooperation, nurturance, and working together is crucial. To seemingly have so few cooperating is frustrating sometimes! But it must start with me, with each individual.

    I can still stay in my heart and love myself and others and help who I can help while here even though it looks like such a mess. This is not pessimism or negativity! It is being realistic. Like the serenity prayer, I work to change the things I can! I will do my best to continue to educate about fracking and water crisis and climate change,, to write letters to congress, etc, but I don’t have to live in terror or in a frozen state. KEEPING MOVING is crucial for wellness, movement with love. Using only mind, intellect, intelligence (esp in science) to solve these critical issues is not the answer! Even Einstein reminded us that we cant use the same consciousness that caused problems to solve them. We must use HIGHER consciousness to solve these problems. The damage created by a dominator-dominated paradigm at all levels of relationships (within the family home and the earth home) is what has contributed to all this. It is through a deeper loving partnership relationship and paradigm with ourselves from the family home and the earth home, our relationships with others and all life on earth. that we may still be able to change things. Higher consciousness can and will triumph over lower consciousness and its dark destructiveness regardless of how things go on earth.

    And discussing these emotional planetary-political-environmental issues with others IS important during these times too, regardless of who poopoos it! It is about being real! Many people are unemployed and have free time now, sometimes to much time for the sake of their mental health. How do they use their free time? To get depressed, or to transform or transcend? Existential terror is pervasive with those who do not know what to do with their less then positive thoughts and feelings! We benefit from sharing our fears-nightmares to help free ourselves from them. We benefit from talking about our doubts about the future we face, we benefit by sharing our inspiration, hopes, dreams for transformation and transcendence and helping each other. It is difficult to just hold all this in and bear the whole emotional burden alone. We can share our fears and sorrow and grief about what is going on. We need not stay in a paralyzed morose adnauseum year after year and decade after decade as things become seemingly worse. Speaking our truths is crucial! But then get off our butts and out there and help others anyway we can! Like magic, service and sharing take away a lot of the pain and helps to open our heart, our empathy and our compassion!

    This is my deepest hope and longing for me, future generations and the planet, that we can all use these harsh and terrifying times to transcend our inner shadows and masks and to open our hearts, to see who we truly are and who and what we are NOT, that we tame our inner demons, inc the non-empathetic parts of ourselves during all this! Each of us has contributed to toxic ecological footprints in our life, not just the international corporations who frack the planet to continue the outdated and unnecessary MISUSE of these toxic fossil fuels. We must acknowledge our own defects in disrespect and carelessness, our detachment or dissociation from our truly empathetic loving self within! We abandoned our self, and thus we keep abandoning others and our earth.

    We can “make lemonade out of all these lemons!” It has often been said that success is the best “revenge.” Imagine empathy, compassion, LOVE and service to others being the highest WEAPON against all this mess, suffering, destruction. Love and light brighten up and eliminate the darkness! The Phoenix can arise out of the ashes of these outmoded old ways. Help somebody, and your help yourself. Pay it forward. How many of these phrases have you heard and liked, but have not EXERCISED? When it is the hardest times, that is when to act instead of freeze! Many humans come to know their deepest highest selves during times of crisis, while others unleash their worst! It is easy to find people who need help out there now, especially if these images of fracking and climate change and Fukushima get you out of sorts, and you feel like there is nothing you can overtly do about fracking or other urgent issues! Sometimes I have tried to write my politicians , but rarely do I hear back from them. I even have my students write political letters about health and environmental issues, but it is usually only election years that they are responded to.

    For 4+ decades I have been attempting to educate others on the fragility and preciousness of life here, but sometimes, when I am feeling blue and alone, it does not seem that most people can hear or see what is happening on intricate micro or macro levels, nor can they remember history and lessons from prior mistakes of human history. Nor are they able to FEEL EMOTIONALLY what all this means on a philosophical, heart or soul level. Empathy is seemingly waning as each decade goes by, and thus more suffering increases. As we see the escalation of countless new technological ways to destroy, get and take from the fragile balance of the earth’s cycles-laws operating here, I sometimes wonder if we are past the point of no return (I have wondered this for 40 years!). Even with the grave warnings of many who are knowledgeable and who give the dire warnings about the state of our earth, these seem to go unheeded while the madness of ignorant misuse of science and technology seems to keep continuing. While most inventions seem to sound so wonderful in potential, how often are these things misused and end up being so toxic and destructive? What if we ALL took a Hippocratic oath to “DO NO HARM,” including corporations? While there are some areas where humans have made some progress in reversing planetary degradation, there is yet a pervasive virulent component of diseased-mad-seriously WOUNDED humans who keep the pace of destruction escalating! How can these people be healed? Good grief it feels like such a huge task! You can bring a horse to the water, but you cant make it drink. ” Well, we somehow have to create a thirst!

    But what is also not posted within main stream media very often, is the awakening that is happening, of people starting to see what is going on! They are starting to get all this even if they don’t know the sciences too well. I see much hope in the escalating changes in consciousness out there even while so much looks so dire! Even with the pervasive morose, many know that transforming and transcending our fear based consciousness of prior millennia is key to where we take all this. Each day we can help ourselves and others in some wonderful way. In fact, many recognize that this is a powerful way to fight the heavy grief feelings so many feel as they see what is happening. So while things may APPEAR to be grim with what we see with our eyes, we can see things from heart-eyes instead. If you are in a funk and tired of seeing all the depressing stuff online and on TV, why not go out in nature and revel in what we do have that is so beautiful. Go out and find someone hungry on the streets or in your neighborhood, and feed them. Make it deeply personal for yourself and who you are with. There are many things our heart-self, our true-self can do while it often looks so bleak out there.

    Fracking is just one of MANY destructive environmental issues that point to future suffering here! Education can help many to understand, but what percent of the most destructive humans are the most educated? How many of those destructive humans are cold-heartless psychopathic-sociopaths who have lots of power and leadership? Is it not destructive leadership that leads to pain? Are these so called leaders just “the blind leading the blind?” I believe in education helping the causes, but the lower consciousness, and the lack of holistic education or higher knowledge is one of the most crucial issues we face. It may be an over-generalization, but it seems that those who are the “most advantaged” with a so-called finest education at the top universities in US, often play the most destructive roles here. Aren’t they missing the deepest meaning of TRUE holistic education and knowledge? Don’t they have distortions of what REAL success and happiness are? I do not consider this path we are witnessing and feeling to be one that leads to REAL success or happiness, certainly NOT if it only allows less than 1&! How delusiomal is that?! To “get and take” for the sake of one’s own “me-myself-I” so-called happiness and success at the expense of other life forms, human or not human, is the main issue here. To have scientific knowledge without wholesome philosophy and or spirituality is dangerous and LETHAL. One need not be religious or spiritual in the traditional sense to have a conscience, but religion and spirituality can assist in awakening a loving conscience!

    Environmental collapse, economic collapse, peak oil are all happening simultaneously. These are horrific to ponder due to the ripples of many terrifying possibilities, but freezing, mood altering into entertainment and burying our heads in the sand while this all happens is definitely not productive. Regardless of where these crises take us, we have an opportunity to rise above the madness if we can find those personal powers within us, and our heart and soul can “be in this world while not of it. ”

    It is wonderful when technology and science have helped us humans to know more and more about the magnificence of the cosmos, universe, galaxy, solar system and planet we are riding within-on. But these facts are USELESS if we do not come to realize how all of life is interdependent on all of life. Have we misunderstood what the purpose of human life and living are? With dedication to pursuit of holistic HIGHER knowledge, we can come to see how everything is all connected and how we tiny humans can affect both positive and negative changes here even if we are also very vulnerable at the same time, regardless of our name, fame, station, status, age here. We all play a role, major or minor, in affecting the fate or inspiration of ourselves as a species and all other life forms on this planet. By our ignorance, greed and pursuit of that which is not rightfully ours to claim, we are in grave danger. Even beautiful innocence contributes to degradation to a degree, but “me-myself-I” consciousness that separates itself from the truth of the connectedness and interdependence of of all life on this planet is what most ignore or can’t see. By the unhealthy-out of control-ignorant ego’s pursuit of ultimate control-power and enjoyment, this may have sealed our fate and we may be doomed to witness another mass extinction soon. The earth can continue with or without us humans here, but I think she-Gaia would appreciate a break-rest from the destruction that sleeping-unconscious humans inflict upon her. The rate of destruction is related to the 7 billion humans here, yes, but it is more than that. It is the consciousness of the 7 billion humans here that determines how fast things go downhill or uphill. It is not the number of humans but the consciousness of these humans that will determine earth and life’s demise and thus our human demise or not. The humans who think that they can rape and pillage the earth and all its resources is in delusion and darkness. There are many things terribly wrong with this picture here and so much is out of balance, but life is resilient!! Basically, if we do not have a relationship and higher knowledge about the laws of nature, we are doomed to upset these laws, to our demise and perhaps another mass extinction. The more we are out of touch with nature, the further we are from a relationship with nature, the more desperate we will all be to regain our health and wellness as a planet and species.

    I have been been teaching in multiple sciences (misc biology, environment, health courses) for over 40 years in 3 states’ colleges and universities. Of course it has taken me a long time to put so many pieces of this giant planetary jigsaw puzzle together for myself so I can see all the macro-micro cosmological connections, but there are some things that are clear to me and many others. Life on this ailing earth may be approaching “hospice status.” The earth can recover between mass extinctions, but the species who live here, who are minute “fleas on the elephant” are vulnerable to being wiped out. We are currently witnessing hundreds of species going extinct each day. Why do not most humans understand the fragility of life here? I love the beauty, order, chaos, cosmological creation-destruction, life-death processes that are operating with or without our presence as a species, but it deeply pains me to see the degree of irreverence and disrespect for everything we have here. We disrespect each other, other species, ourselves. There are deep rooted philosophical and spiritual problems! It helps to understand all the sciences on some level, and to have awe and wonder when one understands, but unless one has an open heart and loving spirit, these messes will continue. What I long for even more is when we as a species can see our roles as beneficent stewards, custodians, protectors of BALANCE, we protect ourselves as a species, we protect all species on earth, all plants, animals, microbial life included. What we have here as resources. But each person has a potential role to fill here! Are each of us part of the problem or are we part of the solution?

  9. Roberta Kinsey
    April 19, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    In an interview ahead of a bank summit next week, President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim predicts that “battles over food and water will break out in the next five to ten years as a direct result of a warming planet that world leaders have done too little to address, despite warnings from the environmental community and scientists.”

    “The water issue is critically related to climate change,” Kim told the Guardian. “People say that carbon is the currency of climate change. Water is the teeth. Fights over water and food are going to be the most significant direct impacts of climate change in the next five to 10 years. There’s just no question about it.”

    We are seeing the beginnings of the water wars in the central valley already, as the gas and oil cartels siphon off water destined for central valley agriculture and southern California residential use. The result will be rising food prices and a scarcity of water.

    We might prevent that if the elected members of our city council would join other cities in banning fracking. A ban would send a powerful message to Sacramento – BAN FRACKING STATEWIDE.

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