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Fracking—the Great Divide

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San Francisco, CABoth Democrats and Republicans last week sided with the oil industry and rejected a bill that would have put a temporary stop to fracking in the state of California.

Dave Quast, California director of Energy in Depth, which is a group backed by the oil industry, said that fracking creates jobs, increases revenue and lessens California’s dependence on oil imports. “This is the second time a house of the California state legislature has soundly rejected a moratorium on a routine practice that’s been deemed safe repeatedly,” Quast told Reuters (May 29, 2014).

Environmentalists, countless people affected by ground and water contamination, and, just recently, a Texas jury in a fracking lawsuit disagree that hydraulic fracking is safe. The bill was rejected despite the fact that two-thirds of California voters supported the ban and most voters said they would be “more likely” to vote for a legislator who supported it as well, according to a recent survey by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. Further, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council commissioned a poll that shows the same results, i.e., more than two-thirds of Californians want a moratorium on fracking.

And the largest Latino online organizing group in the nation, Presente.org, weighed in.
“It’s disappointing to see our leaders in Sacramento fail to pass a moratorium on fracking, siding with the powerful oil and gas industry at the expense of the health of our families and climate,” said Executive Director Arturo Carmona.


More than 100 environmental, progressive and community groups led by the national progressive group CREDO urged lawmakers to pass SB 1132, which would put a moratorium on fracking until research determines whether the practice is harmful to Californians. They were disappointed in the “shamelessly unprincipled” Democrats who sided with the oil industry by blocking the moratorium.

“This bill presents lawmakers with a clear-cut choice that will show whether they are on the side of oil industry lobbyists or Californians concerned about public health and safety,” said Zack Malitz, a CREDO spokesperson. “It’s clear from the broad support across California that residents know a moratorium is the right path to protect our communities from the well-documented dangers of fracking.”

The oil industry, led by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), spent nearly $1.5 million lobbying in three months leading up to the Senate’s vote on bill SB 1132. According to truth-out.org, from 2009 through 2013, the oil industry has spent more than $56 million lobbying the California Legislature.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the county of Santa Cruz and the city of Beverly Hills recently voted to permanently ban fracking, even before any fracking has been proposed to them. Other counties and cities are planning to hold votes to prevent hydraulic fracturing contamination. It really makes you wonder who the government is representing - certainly not the majority.

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