Gov. Brown: Don’t Let Big Oil Frack Our Future
The oil industry is fracking with California’s air. In Los Angeles, harmful chemicals designated as “air toxics” have been used hundreds of times at oil and gas wells over the past five months.
Oil companies use fracking — in which water mixed with industrial chemicals is blasted into the earth to fracture rocks — and other risky techniques to reap big profits.
But our lungs pay the price.
This air pollution endangers our children’s health, putting our very future at risk. And oil industry pollutants increase everyone’s danger of asthma, heart disease and cancer.
Gov. Jerry Brown and local officials have to safeguard our health. At the state level, we need a moratorium on fracking and other toxic techniques used to extract oil and gas.
Locally, we need all L.A. city council members to support Council Members’ Koretz and Bonin’s efforts to place a citywide moratorium on fracking. And the South Coast Air Quality Management District must ramp up efforts to protect the public from oil industry pollution.
The Center for Biological Diversity just launched an anti-fracking billboard in Los Angeles. You can see it above 2346 Westwood Blvd., about 1,000 feet north of West Pico Boulevard.
We’re Breathing WHAT?
Hydrochloric Acid. 2-Butoxy Ethanol. Ethylbenzene. Methanol. Formaldehyde.
Labeled “air toxics” because they are among the most dangerous air pollutants, these chemicals can cause illness and death. And they’re routinely used in fracking and other dirty oil and gas extraction methods in Southern California, according to new data from air-quality officials.
A few examples:
But we don’t even know all the chemicals being pumped into our air. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has allowed oil companies to use trade secret claims thousands of times to keep certain chemicals hidden from public disclosure.
The American Lung Association says there is irrefutable evidence of serious threats to human health from air pollutants emitted during fracking and other forms of oil and natural gas production.
These pollutants contribute to asthma and other respiratory diseases. They can lead to heart attacks. And they increase cancer risk and the danger of developmental problems in young people.
Among those most at risk: infants, children and teenagers.
Fracking and other dirty extraction techniques also threaten to contaminate our water with dangerous chemicals.
Here in California, a Kern County farmer recently videotaped an oil company illegally dumping fracking wastewater into an unlined pit. The oil company received a modest fine — but how often is such dumping done without video cameras there to catch the dangerous practice?
Pollution from fracking and drilling poses another threat: It threatens the Golden State’s efforts to fight climate disruption.
Fracking often releases large amounts of methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas. A recent study 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 of more than 3 percent make even natural gas worse for the climate than coal.
Petroleum companies are already targeting the Monterey Shale, a formation containing billions of barrels of dirty oil that can only be extracted through fracking, acidization (in which acids are injected underground to dissolve oil-bearing formations), and other dangerously extreme methods.
Combustion of the Monterey Shale’s oil would produce roughly 6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution.
As fracking expands, California could become the dirty oil capital of the world — and the resulting pollution will do untold damage to our climate.
That’s why America’s top climate scientists recently urged a halt to fracking in our state.
Protect California From Dirty Energy Pollution
Every Californian deserves to know that oil companies are pumping dangerous chemicals into our air. Air quality officials should be working much harder to track that pollution.
But disclosure alone won’t protect our hearts and lungs — or our water and climate. The best way to shield ourselves is to halt fracking, acidization and other extreme oil recovery techniques.
A recent poll found that 58 percent of Californians want a moratorium on fracking. We need Gov. Brown and state lawmakers to put public health ahead of petroleum industry profits and shut down these dirty operations.
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