Students stage silent demonstration against fracking

Oil
Lorenz Angelo Gonzales/Staff

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A human oil spill spread across Dwinelle Plaza on Monday — a silent demonstration against fracking that is the first in a series of events to kick-start Earth Week 2014.

The day after the four-year anniversary of the BP oil spill, about 20 students, clad entirely in black, circled and sprawled around a miniature wooden oil rig covered with protest signs. Protesters wanted to illustrate the environmental effects of fracking by using human bodies as symbols of the devastation.

“An oil spill is a very visible and recognizable example of the corruption and destruction wrought by the fossil fuel industry,” said Jake Soiffer, a freshman and an actions coordinator at Fossil Free Cal, in an email. “The details — lying on the floor, wearing all black — bring out the serious, pressing nature of the issue.”

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves extracting natural gas and oil by injecting water, sand and chemicals — many of them toxic — into underground shell rock.

The protest, which was planned and sponsored by Students Against Fracking and by Fossil Free Cal, comes a month after a similar demonstration on Sproul to pressure Gov. Jerry Brown into banning fracking in California. Like last month’s protest, students Monday aimed to raise awareness of fracking — but, this time, through a symbolic display.

Suspended from the 12-foot-tall small-scale oil rig was a list of chemicals involved in fracking operations that are injected into bedrock to break it up. At the foot of the rig were students, quietly reclining on the ground.

The protest then kicked into another gear as a student protester wielded a megaphone, chanting “leave the oil in the soil” and “hey hey, ho ho, Keystone XL has to go.”

The protest is the first of many events in UC Berkeley’s annual Earth Week festival, sponsored and organized by the ASUC Sustainability Team. The week — which lasts through Sunday — is designed to spread awareness on environmental issues and is filled with events that promote discussions on ecological issues and teach what it means to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

Founded at the beginning of this semester, Students Against Fracking focuses primarily on leading an educational campaign around campus. The organization will continue to work in solidarity with Fossil Free Cal, a campus group campaigning for the UC Board of Regents to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Kristy Drutman, a freshman and co-coordinator for Students Against Fracking, said the organization will begin to take a bigger step forward in their environmental campaign on campus by starting a petition. The petition would pressure Brown to approve a potential bill come November that would pause fracking in California to allow for further scientific research on the cost-effectiveness of fracking.

In addition, Fossil Free Cal is now looking to broaden student support, connect with local environmental groups and pass a resolution through the ASUC.

 

Contact Bo Kovitz at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @beau_etc.

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  • finest_cheeses

    It’s good to see there are some people who care about important issues like this! Fracking is incredibly harmful and dangerous in so many ways and a lot of people (probably including some of the other people commenting) don’t even know what it is yet. Great job raising awareness guys

    • Mel Content

      It’s good to see there are some people who care about important issues
      like this! Fracking is incredibly harmful and dangerous in so many ways

      Sources and cites, please.

      and a lot of people (probably including some of the other people commenting) don’t even know what it is yet.

      Proof?

      • Mike Weaver

        There is none. Anti-fracking groups like to toss out the “it’s going to kill us!” type of phrases at will without any backup. They hear from their friends that fracking is bad, then become a typical Lib and stage a protest that never amounts to anything.

      • SamKlein

        Here is some evidence that Fracking leads to contamination of ground water!
        This is literally so easy to find.
        “New research just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Robert Jackson, from Duke University, Dr Jackson studied water samples from 141 private drinking-water wells in an area home to 5,000 or so drilling sites sitting atop the Marcellus shale, a gas-rich geological formation stretching from northeastern Pennsylvania to southeastern New York. He found that four out of five wells contained methane. In some homes within 1km (0.6 miles) from the nearest drill site the gas had a chemical signature suggesting that it originated from the Marcellus, rather than being the product of biological processes closer to the surface.
        Concentrations of the gas in such homes were also six times higher than for those farther away. Levels of ethane and propane, other ingredients of natural gas, were higher, too. All were well above the levels the Department of Interior considers safe.”
        —-http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2013/06/fracking

        • Mel Content

          A few details you omitted from the same article:

          In 2011 a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that only a handful of more than 20,000 wells drilled in the previous decade had led to groundwater contamination. All of these incidents resulted from breaches of existing regulations, which require, among other things, that the bore hole be encased in concrete to stop methane and other gases seeping out.

          Correction: An earlier version of this story suggest that all the water wells within 1km of drilling sites contained Marcellus methane. In fact, only some did. Sorry.

          From the actual extract: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/06/19/1221635110.full.pdf+html

          Working in the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania, we published peer-reviewed studies of the issue,finding no evidence for increased concentrations of salts, metals,or radioactivity in drinking water wells accompanying shale gas extraction (4, 11) We did find higher methane concentrations and less negative δ 13C-CH4 signatures, consistent with a natural gas source, in water for homeowners living <1 km from shale gas wells(4).

          So there’s a higher concentration of methane closer to a natural gas source, no surprise there. Care to try to quantify (a) what level of methane concentration in groundwater poses a health/safety risk, and (b) what the expected level would be in absence of fracking? Unless the hysterical anti-fracking types can address the specifics, they aren’t going to be taken seriously by anyone with a clue…

          • Charles_Siegel

            Sam Klein quoted: “He found that four out of five wells contained methane. In some homes
            within 1km (0.6 miles) from the nearest drill site the gas had a
            chemical signature suggesting that it originated from the Marcellus,”

            Mel Content seems to think he refuted this by quoting: “we published peer-reviewed studies of the issue,finding no
            evidence for increased concentrations of salts, metals,or radioactivity
            in drinking water wells accompanying shale gas extraction (4, 11) We
            did find higher methane concentrations and less negative δ 13C-CH4
            signatures, consistent with a natural gas source, in water for
            homeowners living <1 km from shale gas wells(4)."

            Of course, that does not actually refute Sam Klein's point, since he never claimed there were higher concentrations of salts, metals, or radioactivity.

            Sam Klein claimed there was methane in the water at some homes within 1km of a drill site. Mel Content's quote confirms (in its last sentence) that there were higher methane concentrations in the water of homeowners within 1 km of shale gas wells.

            Mel Content asks for "hard evidence of a problem in a credible peer-reviewed journal." Yet he himself actually quoted hard evidence from a peer-reviewed journal.

          • Mel Content

            Mel Content asks for “hard evidence of a problem in a credible
            peer-reviewed journal.” Yet he himself actually quoted hard evidence
            from a peer-reviewed journal.

            Once again, you avoid the questions. What levels of methane are considered a significant health risk, and what increase in CH4 levels can be attributed to fracking itself as opposed to merely being in proximity to the natural source?

  • Kelly Johnson
    • Mel Content

      Thanks for sharing pictures of the Technophobe Club’s field trip to Sproul Plaza. Your point again?

  • Kimo

    I’m amazed idiots like this can still get into Berkeley.

    • Mel Content

      They get into Cal thanks to Affirmative Action and Political Correctness. You won’t see many of these protesters taking the type of math and natural sciences courses necessary to have a technical understanding of “fracking” because most of them lack the the brains and/or the discipline to make it through hard-core programs such as chemistry, physics or any of the engineering disciplines. Instead, they take worthless fluff courses in the humanities that will ensure that they are no more employable than the $10/hour baristas and pizza-flippers on Telegraph when they get out. Of course, they will still walk around with their noses stuck in the air, due to their grossly mistaken idea that they know more than anyone else about the issues of the day…

      • BerkelBear

        Graduating with a Bachelor of Science. Still against fracking.

        • Mel Content

          Graduated with a BSChE myself, and until someone presents some hard evidence of a problem in a credible peer-reviewed journal, I’m not going to get worked up over the cause du jour of the semi-professional protest crowd…

      • Maritza Segura

        “Sources and cites, please.”

        • Mel Content

          “Sources and cites, please.”

          Try hanging around the northeast end of the Cal campus and see how many of these “Diversity” students are majoring in Chem E, Physics or MCB, then compare their numbers with PACS and Sociology majors and you will see a noticeable change in demographics…

          • Wes

            Your arguments might be stronger if you curbed your racism.

          • Mel Content

            Your arguments might be stronger if you curbed your racism.

            What’s “racist” about the truth? Or is this the type of PC nonsense you spew when you can’t win an argument?

          • Jake Soiffer

            Check his other comment. Please troll elsewhere.

      • Wes

        Affirmative Action has been banned in California for 16 years.

  • Antiobamunist

    Do these nitwits walk everywhere they go? Do they own any Plastic Products? Do they shop at stores that have their Inventory Trucked in? Do they eat Fruits and Vegetables that are harvested using Mechanical means, or do they only eat stuff harvested by poor Brown exploited People? Are we the Taxpayers footing the Bill for their Indoctrination, I mean Education? Who raised these Useful Idiots, the same Useful Idiots that Vote Democrat?
    They should all be wearing “I’m with Stupid” T Shirts.

  • ew_3

    Who teaches these “students” ?

    In the 60’s we challenged our professors. These “students” suck it all up without question.

    Time to take federal money away from all colleges/universities.