Thousands Turn Out to Sacramento Fracking Rally

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On Saturday, March 15th, I drove up to the State Capitol building in Sacramento to join the largest gathering of people protesting fracking in California history. The rally wasn’t hard to find. I just followed the flow of people proudly carrying signs. 

The Capitol building sits in the middle of the city, nestled in an island of green lawns, flowering gardens, and a collection of trees from around the world.  The sun was out, so was the jasmine, and for a moment I felt transported to a place a million miles away from the drought ridden hills of Los Angeles and looming fracking wells and open sump pits of Kern County.  But that is exactly why I and thousands of other Californians trekked across the state, busted out our sign-making skills, and joined together in protest on Saturday. 

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We were there to urge Governor Brown and our representatives in Sacramento to consider the real risks of fracking.  From behind the closed doors of the Capitol, it’s easy to cave to pressure from a powerful oil industry that’s anxious to further boost their personal profits. But our leaders must not forget the cost: the families, the farmers, the drinking water, the sacred places, the coastal waters, and the communities that are put in danger by reckless fracking. 

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At the rally, Chief Caleen Audrey Sisk, Tribal Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu, reminded Governor Brown that fracking risks polluting our drinking water and takes fresh water out of our rivers and the water cycle forever.  Rodrigo Romo, a former farmworker and activist from Shafter, CA, spoke about the health threats fracking poses right now to school children living in Kern County.  Tom Frantz, a fourth-generation farmer in Shafter, warned that fracking threatens California's agriculture.  Erin Bustillos, a registered nurse, wife, and mother spoke on behalf of the California Nurses Association.  Nurses are invested in this issue, she explained, because it is nurses who are at the frontlines if a child with a respiratory illness or a worker exposed to toxic chemicals from fracking comes into the hospital.

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I was there calling for an immediate moratorium on fracking in the state. We need a halt on fracking while the state evaluates the public health and environmental risks fracking poses to our communities and environment as well as whether, if, and how we can protect against them.

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Governor Brown has the authority to place a moratorium on fracking via executive order. Earlier this year, more than 50 organizations, including NRDC, representing more than 2 million Californians, sent Governor Brown a letter urging him to do so.

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But with the governor having yet to act, state legislators have stepped in. A pending state bill (Senate Bill 1132), introduced by Senator Holly Mitchell and Senator Mark Leno, would provide the state with the fracking moratorium Californians have been demanding.  When Elise Gyore, Legislative Director for State Senator Holly Mitchell, took the rally stage and demanded a moratorium on fracking the crowd erupted into cheers. 

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The risks are too high to keep letting industry run amok and frack away our state.  We depend on Governor Brown and our representatives in Sacramento to protect our water, our natural wonders, and our communities from the risks of fracking. 

We won’t let up until they do.


Photo Credits: NRDC