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Gov. Brown: Climate Leaders Don’t Frack

Fracking pollution threatens to poison California’s water and contaminate the air we breathe. And fracking undermines the Golden State’s efforts to fight climate disruption.

Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to lead the fight to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas pollution. But the governor also supports expanded oil fracking in California — even though America’s top climate scientists recently urged him to halt fracking in the state.

The Center for Biological Diversity is joining other experts in urging Gov. Brown to face reality: Supporting fracking will sabotage the governor’s own important work on climate change.

As fracking expands, California could become the dirty oil capital of the world — and the resulting pollution will do untold damage to our climate.

California’s Carbon Bomb

Fracking involves blasting huge volumes of water mixed with toxic chemicals into the earth to fracture rock formations and release oil and natural gas. A recent poll found that 58 percent of Californians want a moratorium on this dangerous practice.

But despite public concern at least 1,200 California oil and gas wells have been fracked in the past three years — without scientific review or regulation by state officials.

Petroleum companies are already targeting the Monterey Shale, a formation containing large amounts of dirty oil that can only be extracted through fracking, acidization and other dangerously extreme methods.

Much of the oil currently extracted in California is as carbon intensive as Canadian tar sands oil, one of the most climate-disrupting fuels on Earth.

Yet Gov. Brown supports expanded fracking despite the fact that it will light the fuse on this carbon bomb.

Fracking’s Methane Pollution  

Fracking often releases large amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas — and California already has a massive methane pollution problem.

A recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research found that the methane leak rate from Los Angeles–area oil and gas operations was 17 percent. Because methane is a powerful greenhouse pollutant, leakage rates greater than 3 percent make these fuels worse for the climate than coal.

Widespread fracking in California will release more of this planet-warming pollution.

Other Risks

About 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, scientists say. Others harm the skin or reproductive system. Evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals — as well as methane released by fracking — are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Fracking can release dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene and xylene. It also increases ground-level ozone levels, raising people’s risk of asthma. Oil companies have used 12 dangerous “air toxic” chemicals hundreds of times in the Los Angeles Basin in recent months, according to a recent Center report.

Leaving Dirty Oil in the Ground

To protect our climate, Gov. Brown must halt fracking in California. To have a decent chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, we have to leave most fossil fuels buried safely in the Earth.

Carbon pollution is already heating up the planet; raising sea levels; melting sea ice at an increasing pace; acidifying the oceans; and increasing danger from heat waves, floods and damaging storms, according to a landmark scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In 2012 the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that two-thirds of all fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground if we’re to prevent catastrophic global warming. 

That warning applies to California’s vast deposits of dirty oil. If Brown values his legacy as a climate leader, he needs to halt fracking in California.

The governor needs to face facts: Climate leaders don’t frack.



Gov. Brown banner photo by Thomas Hawk/ no endorsement implied/ www.creativecommons.org/licences/by-nc/20.deed.en