Between his years serving as governor, Jerry Brown was the mayor of Oakland – he’s called it home for years. So on February 7th, we’re showing up in force to his hometown to let him know he is not a climate leader if he continues to allow the oil and gas industry to expand in California. During one of the worst droughts in California history, Brown continues to allow oil companies to expand water-intensive oil and gas development like fracking and to ship in tar sands and oil from the Bakken shale. That’s anything but climate leadership.

In March of 2014, thousands of people from all over the state gathered in Sacramento to push Brown to ban fracking. We built our movement and made ourselves stronger by connecting, seeing one another, and using our collective voice. Now, a year later, we’re going to make that message hit home in Brown’s hometown: we need real climate leadership.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of oil and gas production that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, under high pressure deep into the earth. Fracking breaks up rock formations to allow oil and gas extraction. But it can also pollute local air and water and endanger human health.

For more, see these fracking-specific FAQs:

Fracking has been documented in 10 California counties — Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Kings and Ventura. Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells in the ocean near California’s coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel. In Kern County, California’s major oil-producing county, Halliburton estimates that 50 percent to 60 percent of new oil wells are fracked. Fracking may have been used elsewhere in California, since state officials have not monitored or tracked the practice until recently.

Rising oil prices are driving up interest in exploiting oil in the Monterey Shale using extreme fossil fuel extraction techniques such as fracking. This geological formation under the San Joaquin and the Los Angeles basins may hold an estimated 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil. If fracking and similar techniques are not banned in the state, we could soon experience an extremely dangerous oil boom in California.

Fracking routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene. About 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, according to scientists with the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, the only organization that focuses primarily on the human health and environmental problems caused by low-dose and/or ambient exposure to chemicals that interfere with development and function, called endocrine disruptors. Evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Water quality can also be threatened by methane contamination tied to drilling and the fracturing of rock formations. This problem has been highlighted by footage of people in fracked areas setting fire to methane-laced water from kitchen faucets.

Fracking can also expose people to harm from lead, arsenic and radioactivity that are brought back to the surface with fracking flowback fluid. Fracking also requires an enormous amount of water, and because fracking waste water contains dangerous toxins it generally cannot be cleaned and reused for other purposes. Especially during a historic drought, we cannot afford to permanently remove massive quantities of this precious resource from our state’s water supply.

Fracking can release dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene, toluene and xylene. It can increase levels of ground-level ozone, a key risk factor for respiratory illness. The pollutants in fracking water can also enter our air when that water is dumped into waste pits and then evaporates. Air pollution caused by fracking may contribute to health problems in people living near natural gas drilling sites, according to a study by researchers with the Colorado School of Public Health.
Fracking and similar techniques often release large amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that is at least 86 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. Fracking also allows access to huge fossil fuel deposits once beyond the reach of drilling. In California, rising oil prices are driving up interest in fracking on the Monterey Shale, a geological formation under the San Joaquin and the Los Angeles basins that may hold an estimated 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil.

Moreover, much of California’s oil is dirty, heavy crude. The California Air Resources Board scores many of the state’s oil fields as about as carbon intensive as oil from the infamous Alberta tar sands. As California strives to lead the fight to avoid a climate change catastrophe, why should we facilitate the release of carbon in billions of barrels of carbon-intensive oil now safely sequestered in our shale formations? We shouldn’t.

Fracking is very poorly regulated at the federal level. In 2005 Congress exempted most types of fracking from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, severely limiting protections for water quality. In April 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized new Clean Air Act rules called “New Source Performance Standards” that will limit air pollutants from fracked gas wells. However, the rules don’t cover oil wells, don’t set limits on methane release — and won’t take effect until 2015. As a result, regulating fracking falls largely to the states.

In September 2013 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law called SB 4, which will result in extremely lax regulations on fracking in California. The law requires the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to establish regulations beginning in January 2015. DOGGR has proposed weak, industry-friendly regulations that will do little to protect public health or the environment from fracking.

DOGGR is also required to conduct a scientific study of the effects of fracking and other extreme fossil fuel extraction techniques by January 2015, as well as an environmental impact statement by July 2015. Think it’s irresponsible to draft regulations without knowing the potential threats of the activity that you’re regulating? We do too.

The bottom line: Fracking is an inherently dangerous practice, and the only way to protect ourselves is to halt use of this toxic technique. That’s why we’re asking the Governor to ban fracking in California.

Yes, but today’s fracking techniques are new and pose new dangers. Technological changes have facilitated an explosion of drilling in areas where, even a decade ago, companies couldn’t recover oil and gas profitably.

Directional drilling, for example, is a new technique that has greatly expanded access to rock formations. Companies also employ high fluid volumes to fill horizontal “well bores” that sometimes extend for miles. And oil and gas producers are using new chemical concoctions collectively called “slick water” that allow injection fluid to flow rapidly enough to generate the high pressure needed to break apart rock.

Furthermore, if oil exploitation begins on a large scale in California, it will most likely happen through a combination of fracking and acidization. Acidization, another dangerously extreme fossil fuel extraction technique, is similar to fracking but employs hydrofluoric or hydrochloric acid to dissolve rock in order to release oil and gas. Acidization pollutes our air, and hydrofluoric acid is a hazardous substance that can leak and cause deadly accidents.

As fracking methods have changed and fracking has expanded, so has the threat to public health and the environment.

The march is indeed a family friendly, permitted march.
You should bring:

  • Blue Clothing
  • Signs
  • Bullhorns
  • Musical Instruments
  • Walking shoes
  • Snacks/Food
  • Water

You shouldn’t bring:

  • Weapons of any kind
  • Drugs or illegal contraband
The March for Real Climate Leadership is organized by a broad coalition of groups from all over California. The full list of partners is available here.
If you want to support the march and can’t make it to Oakland, you can support the action in a number of different ways. If you are part of an organization that would like to help spread the word, sign up here. If you can’t make it, but want to make sure someone else can, click here to make a donation to cover the cost of a bus seat.
Governor Jerry Brown has been a leader in California for decades. Governor Brown has been called a lot of things: Governor Moonbeam, a radical, a climate leader. The Governor Brown we know now was elected to carry us into a new chapter in California. Under his leadership over the last 4 years, we’ve seen weak regulations pass for fracking, we’ve watched communities suffer from lack of water, and we’ve witnessed a Governor who’s taken tens of millions from an oil and gas industry that wants us to remain addicted to fossil fuels.

Governor Brown has said “Nothing is more fundamental than water.” If he truly believes that, why is he allowing 100-400 thousand gallons of fresh water for fracking instead of sustaining our communities? Amidst a climate-fueled drought, we’re forever removing from the hydrologic cycle scarce fresh water in order to forcefully extract and burn fossil fuels that will make this drought even worse. We’re focused on Governor Jerry Brown because Californians need real climate leadership to stop the local and climate impacts of fracking.

We’re working on making sure this rally and march are accessible for all that want to join us. Please e-mail Brianne at if you need special accommodations.
The march will be on February 7th, at 11:30 am. We’re starting at Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th & Broadway, Oakland, California.

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