Yesterday, the California State Senate voted against advancing a bill to place a moratorium on fracking in California. The bill, SB1132, co-authored by Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would have placed a temporary moratorium on fracking and acidizing until an environmental impact study on these practices is completed.
Although disappointing, this turn of events is not surprising. The industry spent huge amounts of money to defeat this bill, even after the recent downgrade of the Monterey Shale by the Energy Information Agency – a whopping 96% of original estimates of recoverable oil. With the promise of millions of jobs, and billions of dollars in tax revenue vanishing in an instant, the industry and supporters continued to push on the promise that continued fracking would bring about jobs.
Along with the promise of jobs, came arguments of energy independence. However, the industry failed to mention that the estimated 600 million barrels of recoverable oil from California, would power the US for a mere 32 days. Senators from oil producing regions of California were quick to defend the industry’s dirty practices, while others abstained from voting. In the end, no politician wants to be on the record saying they are anti-drilling.
However, it's not all doom and gloom. There are many silver linings to this fight. When we originally began pushing for this bill in January, we were not sure if we would find an author and sponsor in the legislature. Senators Mitchell and Leno, along with their staff, became our champions, and with their hard work, we were able to push this bill much further than we originally thought possible. Along the way, a broad coalition of labor groups, businesses, green energy groups, environmentalists, farmers, nurses, indigenous organizations, local grassroots groups, student organizations, and many more, came out in support of a moratorium. Major newspapers, including the LA Times, supported SB1132.
At the local level, it encouraged municipalities and counties to impose their own moratoriums or bans on fracking, while others are drafting resolutions to stop this harmful practice. From Butte County in the north, to Los Angeles in the south, citizens are standing up and taking control where there state has not. Beverly Hills was the first city to place a ban on fracking, followed by Santa Cruz as the first county. Voters will have a chance to choose in Santa Barbara and San Benito counties. Los Angeles councilmembers have unanimously supported a moratorium within city limits, and fights have just begun in Orange County.
Faced with tremendous opposition, and insurmountable odds, the anti-fracking movement has flourished. Although SB1132 failed to pass the state senate, the industry was put on notice, and knows that the movement will not disappear. Our voices will only get louder and stronger. We will protect our health, and not give up our right to a clean environment and a sustainable future.
In the end, SB1132 was a show of strength for the citizens of California, and a sign of weakness for an industry that spends millions of dollars to rally against progress.
We will continue our efforts at the local level, and come back stronger in 2015 at the state level. We will continue showing our elected officials that drilling for oil is not the only job creator, and investments in renewable energy are far more efficient at creating jobs and a sustainable future.
We will continue urging Governor Brown to see firsthand how fracking affects California’s communities, and use his executive power to impose an immediate moratorium on fracking. In California, 68% of the population supports a moratorium on fracking. Their voices will be heard.
For every cloud there is a silver lining. For every dollar the industry spends fighting us, there is one less dollar spent on fracking. We may have lost the battle today, but we will keep on fighting. We will not rest until all Californians have equal protection, and their health, environment, and right to a sustainable future is secure. Let’s put our communities first.