What is Fracking?
Fracking, otherwise known as "hydraulic fracturing," is the extractive process of drilling deep into the earth and injecting millions of gallons of toxic fluid -- a mix of water, sand, and harsh chemicals -- at high enough pressure to splinter the rock and release oil or natural gas.
Increasingly employed by the world's biggest oil corporations like Chevron, Exxon, and Occidental Petroleum, fracking has exploded in the last 10 years across the U.S as a means of extremely dirty fossil fuel extraction. As companies have exploited traditional oil reserves in the U.S. and across the world, they have turned to fracking and other highly dangerous extractive processes (mountaintop removal in Appalachia, deep sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, etc.). Fracking in California is one of the most destructive forms of energy extraction, both for public health and the environment.
What are the main problems with fracking?
Fracking poses a major threat to people's health, local communities, and our global climate. Here in California, fracking is polluting our drinking water, contaminating our food, exacerbating the drought, putting us at even greater risk of earthquakes, magnifying racist inequalities in Latino communities...and well, it's just not much fun.
Click the Video page to learn more about each of these problems.
Where does fracking happen in California?
Fracking has been documented in 10 California counties — Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Kings and Ventura. The vast majority occurs in Kern County, which also happens to be the heart of California's farmland.
Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells hundreds of times in the ocean near California’s coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel. And fracking may have been done elsewhere in California, since state officials haven’t monitored or tracked the practice until recently.
Chevron and other oil companies now want to expand fracking and other dangerously extreme fossil fuel extraction methods in the Monterey Shale. This geological formation under the San Joaquin and the Los Angeles basins may hold a large amount of extraordinarily dirty, carbon intensive oil.
How is fracking in California different than other places?
While most fracking in other U.S. states is for natural gas, here in California all fracking is for oil extraction. In addition, over 75% of fracking in California happens on, or right next to, our farmlands. Oil companies are fracking the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, where almost 50% of the country's fruits and vegetables are grown.
This region is already home to severe environmental degradation and public health issues. Suffering from decades of industrial agriculture, pesticides, trucking, and conventional oil extraction, the Central Valley has long been home to the worst air quality in the nation. Fracking only exacerbates these problems. Most local residents, especially in Latino and low-income communities, don't own the land that is being sold to the oil companies. They don't make the decisions to frack the land they live and work on -- but they are the ones who feel direct impacts. And because fracking exacerbates climate change, all of us pay the consequences.
Why is this campaign aimed at Governor Jerry Brown?
There is one person who could ban fracking in California this very instant.
His name is Jerry Brown.
Governor Brown wants to be known as the "Climate Governor," but he refuses to face the disastrous environmental and health impacts of fracking. Thousands of people have marched, lobbied, taken direct action, and now there is an even a lawsuit against Gov. Brown to demand he bans fracking. Under pressure, last year the California state legislature passed the first regulations on fracking operations (SB 4). These regulations, however, are incredibly weak and difficult to enforce. But we don't want to regulate fracking. We want to ban fracking!
Unfortunately, Governor Brown has refused to do the right thing. So it's on us to keep the pressure up and show him the light.
What places have banned fracking?
New York, Vermont, and most recently Maryland have all banned fracking in their states. They joined countries like France, Bulgaria, Scotland, and others who have placed moratoriums on fracking. Shout out to Bulgaria!
California, we're up next.
But doesn't fracking create like, you know, jobs?
The fracking industry does provide a small number of jobs, but in California these jobs are almost all given to out-of-state, temporary contractors. Once the initial fracking well is drilled, almost all these workers move on to another city or state.
In addition, fracking is hurting people in their existing jobs! Farmworkers face the loss of their farmland, teachers and nurses are dealing with sick kids, and whole communities are being devastated by this extractive, exploitative industry.
California needs jobs, but it needs good, green-collar jobs that serve both the people and the planet.
So you don't like fracking. Where the f**k should we get our energy?
In California, we have this thing called "the sun." We also get plenty of wind. Between solar and wind power, we have vast amounts of clean, renewable energy. If we invested in renewable energy sources, not to mention retrofitting our buildings and adopting climate-friendly public policies, we would create millions of new green jobs that would help our communities and the environment.
We need to transition out of corporate control of our energy and environment. The answer is not mega-solar farms run by Chevron. We need democratized, diversified, decentralized forms of energy and governance at all levels. Ultimately, we are building towards a Just Transition away from our society's extractive economy towards a society that values local, sustainable, and equitable economies.
One step at a time.
How long until Jerry Brown does the right thing?
The more people who join the movement, the sooner we win.
And we're here to win.
You hear that, Jerry?
We will win.