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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

113,000 Californians Petition Against Fracking

SACRAMENTO (CN) - Thousands of anti-fracking protesters marched through Gov. Jerry Brown's hometown of Oakland Saturday and by Monday 113,000 of their signatures had crossed his desk at the state Capitol.

The activists submitted a petition demanding a ban on fracking in California, asking Brown to adopt similar legislation to that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo did in December 2014.

The petition crossed Brown's desk two days after the largest fracking protest in U.S. history. More than 8,000 people marched through downtown Oakland, bearing signs such as, "Don't frack your mother" and "Leaders don't frack."

The more than 100,000 signatures were packed into a box and delivered to Brown's office by Daily Kos campaign director Paul Hogarth.

The activists' message and goal is clear, said the organizer of Saturday's rally, 350.org Fracking campaign director Linda Capato Jr.

"We're going to continue to push Brown to make the right decision," Capato said. "All extreme energy production needs to stop."

California is the third-largest oil producing state and fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is becoming more frequent, particularly in the Central Valley.

Around 300 wells are being added per month in California, most of them involving fracking, in which water and/or chemicals are injected into shale rocks under high pressure.

Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania have profited from fracking, and the increased production has reduced the country's reliance on foreign oil, advocates say. Hydraulic fracking supports 2.1 million U.S. jobs and has been around for more than 60 years, according to energyfromshale.org.

Throughout his political career Brown has vehemently supported environmental issues and is a self-proclaimed climate champion.

Activists are questioning Brown's legacy going forward if he allows fracking to continue unabated in California.

"You can't be a climate leader if you're fracking," Capato said. "It's our decision to choose if he's a climate leader, not his."

The anti-fracking activists' actions come just a week after filings with the secretary of state showed the oil industry nearly doubled its lobbyist spending in 2014.

Whether Brown will oppose the largest lobby in California remains to be seen.

Brown was asked about fracking and its impact on California's continuing drought during a press conference Friday.

"As long as Californians are going to drive 332 billion miles a year and consume 14 billion gallons of gasoline and 4 billion gallons of diesel," Brown said, "we're going to have to have a plan that's comprehensive."

Brown's response ruffled environmentalists, who say the governor has been dodging the fracking discussion for more than a year.

"He can make as many jokes as he wants," Capato said. "It's especially upsetting when he makes jokes that focus on personal use and not the pulling of shale gas from the ground."

Capato and Hogarth said they were disappointed that Brown did not personally receive the petition, but confident their message will get through.

"We have faith he will follow what folks are requesting," Hogarth said.

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