Smackdown for Governor Brown

by Ivy Schlegel

March 14, 2014

Here in California, sequestered under the surface of our poppy-dotted landscape, are 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil. This oil is tight, heavy, dirty, and the oil industry wants to get it out via hydraulic fracturing. They want to get it out while maintaining lax regulations, and they want to keep getting it out during a drought when we struggle to have enough freshwater.

Californians can be stereotyped as mellow, good-natured folks, but when threatened, we can strike.

California has unique attributes, and fracking threatens them all.

  • We have potentially deadly earthquakes, and fracking will increase their frequency.
  • We are currently in a governor-declared drought emergency, and yet fracking requires up to a million gallons of freshwater per well. In addition to fracking the existing wells, oil companies are angling for increased access with decreased regulations, even when some cities have water reserves so low they cannot meet their basic municipal needs.
  • We produce the bulk of America’s agricultural crops, and fracking threatens farmland and farmers by wasting irrigation water as well as contamination from illegally dumped toxic wastewater.
  • And California has been a leader in the fight to reduce our carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change, but since much of California’s oil is dirty, heavy crude that is potentially as carbon intensive as the Alberta tar sands, releasing this carbon into our atmosphere would roll back every effort we have made as a state to protect our planet.

Like folks in other states sitting on shale and natural gas reserves, Californians are speaking up against fracking, demanding a moratorium on the practice. People are passing local ballot initiatives, speaking out at regulatory hearings, and forming diverse coalitions to put the pressure on decision-makers.

Governor Brown wants to position himself as a climate leader, but fracking is incompatible with climate protection. In his re-election announcement, he said that he wants to ‘decrease the use of fossil fuels.’ Then he went ahead and signed SB 4, which opens the door for industry to expand the use of fracking in the state.

Last weekend in Los Angeles, Governor Brown was surprised by the dozens of Democrats at the state Democratic Convention who how else can I say this? gave him the smackdown. Members of his own party held up signs and chanted anti-fracking slogans during his speech. Brown got so flustered about being called out that he told protestors to “keep protesting but go add some stuff.”

Add some stuff? Um, what?

Ok, so maybe Californians have some things to add. Like say, 5,000 people at the statehouse, this Saturday. Were bringing the message to Governor Browns doorstep, as thousands of Californians from all over the state head to Sacramento for the Dont Frack California rally!

Greenpeace will be there, and we hope you will join us in the fight to ban fracking in the Golden State! Be loud, be proud, and stay Golden.

Ivy Schlegel

By Ivy Schlegel

Ivy Schlegel is a senior research specialist with Greenpeace USA plastics team, focusing on strategic corporate research, the petrochemical and plastic value chains, and health and climate impacts of plastic production. Prior to joining the plastics team, Ivy worked on Greenpeace USA's forest work focusing on Indonesian palm oil and other forest-based commodities. Ivy has worked with Greenpeace USA since 2009.

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