Demonstrators demand ban on fracking in California

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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About 60 students and community members rallied on Upper Sproul Plaza on Tuesday afternoon in opposition to fracking in California as part of a statewide movement demanding that Gov. Jerry Brown ban fracking.

The demonstrators — who chanted, “Ban fracking now,” and “If you frack, we’ll be back,” among other phrases — carried handmade signs and hosted four speakers during the hour-long rally.

The rally’s coordinators, Students Against Fracking at UC Berkeley and the ASUC Office of Sustainability, are demanding Brown issue an executive order to ban fracking by Nov. 1. Tuesday’s rally follows a larger rally at the state Capitol on Saturday, where thousands of people gathered from around the state to call for a ban on fracking, including some students from UC Berkeley.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas and oil by injecting water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressures to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well.

“The industry is toxic,” said Kristy Drutman, a UC Berkeley freshman and co-coordinator for Students Against Fracking. “We have the resources. We need people to invest in renewable energy and make it accessible.”

Many rally attendees and organizers cited concerns that fracking uses too much water, especially considering California’s ongoing drought. According to Alastair Iles, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of environmental science, policy and management who gave a speech at the rally, every time fracking happens, up to 10 million gallons of water could be pumped down.

Mac Farrell, global warming organizer for the advocacy organization Environment California, said that although it’s difficult to tell the long-term consequences of fracking, every drop of water used is wasted.

Farrell cited New York’s years-long moratorium on fracking and other similar bans as evidence that the campaign against the technique has escalated.

“We need to move from NIMBY — not in my backyard — to NOPE — not on planet earth,” said David Solnit, Berkeley resident and a volunteer organizer with the Sunflower Alliance, a local environmental justice group.

Some have said, however, that fracking has benefits for the economy. President Barack Obama, in his 2014 State of the Union address, called natural gas a “bridge fuel” that has the ability to power the economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.

The president has encouraged further research on fracking, and some California legislators are thinking along the same lines, introducing legislation last month that would require additional research into fracking.

Several passers-by stopped to listen to the message presented by the demonstrators and speakers during the afternoon rally.

“Fracking is a buzzword,” said Kayla Friedrichsen, a UC Berkeley senior. “Everyone is going to say fracking is bad. A more well-rounded description of the issues and political facets is necessary.”

Contact Angel Jennings at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.

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  • disqus_6YcQLVlAyH

    lol this was the most pathetic protest ever…15 people

  • Toby Shao

    I agree with Wes. Kayla doesn’t realize how plain and simple this issue is. There is no ambiguity that fracking poses real, measurable, risk of hurting residents in the area. You can’t be “well rounded” about that. According to this article, a study done in Southwestern Pennsylvania, which was being fracked, presented 27 people with symptoms of poisoning. Forget about the amount of water we’re wasting for a second, Kayla, and realize this is a real public health issue. By allowing companies to frack, we are exposing inhabitants to great health risk, so it is the government’s duty step in and enforce companies that are taking advantages of the loopholes of the Clean Water Act.

  • Eva

    When I first heard of the issue of hydraulic fracturing, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it, and I was certainly not against it. However, fracking is one of those issues where, the more one learns about the reality of how it is currently occurring, the more one is convinced of its detrimental effects to the world. Especially for those of us who are looking further ahead into the future and trying to make decisions that will best benefit the general population. Yes, well-rounded discussion including all perspectives should always be encouraged, but in the case of fracking I feel that most interest groups do not benefit from polluted and wasted water supplies, human-induced climate change, and an unlivable Earth.

    Here’s how fracking has actually affected people:

  • Angie Shen

    So glad that these students are striving towards becoming the voice of their generation on an issue that will affect the future of our state, country, and world. Their arguments are scientifically backed, and their message is clear. This article fails to acknowledge that this rally is only the beginning: as a fairly new coalition group, Students Against Fracking has made immense strides already towards building a statewide coalition across California’s college campuses. I applaud the work that these students are doing in their endeavor to create a better, just world!

  • Wes

    After several paragraphs in this article describing the issues and political facets involved (and given the thoroughly informative nature of the rally) the reporter’s choice to end with Kayla’s quote is very disappointing. “A more well-rounded description of the issues and political facets is necessary.” Perhaps if Kayla had stayed a bit longer than to just see the posters and interview with the Daily Cal, she might have heard the thorough scientific arguments that Professor Iles made, or the passionate and well-informed nuances of David Braun’s speech. I am completely unimpressed by her vague attempt at being moderate.

    Sadly, Kayla’s comment is exactly what we have heard from defenders of fracking for years- “It’s not that simple – there are other facets.” That is the strongest argument they can make for fracking. That’s the strongest argument Gov. Brown could make when California Democrats against fracking interrupted his speech at the Convention last weekend. Because when one does examine the science, economics, social issues, and economic factors behind hydraulic fracturing, they realize that it is unjustifiable.

  • Meredith

    Here’s a comprehensive summary, for those who are curious or questioning of fracking impacts: “The Environmental Externalities of Fracking, According to Peer Reviewed Science”

  • I love these students and community members who are stepping up to the plate and demanding an end to fracking. CAL is becoming The Free Speech Movement of the 1960’s and 1980’s reborn. Always skips a generation unfortunately.

  • Benof67

    Fracking has been going on in other parts of the country for a few years. There is NO EVIDENCE that fracking causes earth-quakes. The demonstrating students are proof that our Colleges and Universities are miserable failures when it comes to educating our young. The upper education system has evolved into an indoctrination system, and anything but institutions of higher learning.

    • Do your research before you post. Saying there is “NO EVIDENCE that fracking causes earth-quakes” is like saying there is no evidence of climate change and that mantra was debunked at least 10 years ago.

      • Benof67

        BS, seek medical attention for your psychiatric disorder.

        • Angie Shen

          Can we please refrain from accusing each other of mental illness? Let’s have a productive, adult discussion here.

          • Benof67

            You’ve conveniently forgotten that California has a long history of strong earthquakes. We have these earthquakes because our state is riddled with earthquake faults. Fracking has no role in California’s earthquakes.

          • Angie Shen

            Yes, I’m aware California has many earthquake faults. Do you think it’s within the realm of possibility that drilling near or on these faults might destabilize the bedrock, contributing to future earthquakes?

          • Benof67

            Maybe, maybe not, one can only speculate as to what affect fracking has on earthquakes. Fracking does give us access to natural resources that are vital to the growth of our economy. California’s economy is stagnant. We’ve lost much of the high-tech industry to Texas, because of our penalizing tax structure. Fracking to mine oil and gas would provide hundreds of thousands of desperately needed jobs for Californians. Jobs our people need not only to survive but to have purpose and dignity.
            Further, I have faith in our species, and strongly believe, that fracking can be done in a manner that brings minimal damage to our environment, while bring abundant growth and employment opportunities to our starving economy.

    • Roberta Giordano
    • Roberta Giordano