The town of Shafter, in Central California’s Kern County, has become ground zero hydraulic fracturing in the state. Dozens of wells have been fracked in the small town, with some wells just a few hundred feet from schools, parks, homes, and churches.
The largely Hispanic community has suffered from health impacts, including headaches, nosebleeds, asthma, and increased incidences of cancer. They are tired of suffering the consequences of expanded unconventional oil extraction, while oil companies continue to line their pockets with profits.
In May, community activists, in partnership with the Center on Race, Poverty, and Environment (CRPE), wrote a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, asking to visit the community of Shafter, and see firsthand what is happening. Unfortunately, the Governor has endorsed expanded fracking in California, after receiving large contributions from the oil industry.
The governor continues to ignore the various issues that arise from fracking, including water and air contamination, public health problems, increased risks of earthquakes, environmental justice issues, and the exacerbation of climate change due to continued use of fossil fuels.
With our partners at 350.org and CRPE, Earthworks participated in a campaign that collected over 50,000 signatures from across the state, asking the Governor to visit the town of Shafter. From there, he can see fracking wells near the local elementary school, talk to affected residents, and see firsthand the water contamination problems that are affecting the town. The signatures were presented at the Shafter Community Garden on June 15, near wells that have been actively fracked behind Sequoia Elementary School.
It is time that Governor Brown to realize that fracking is not the way to move our state forward. Take action, and ask the Governor to accept the invitation from the people of Shafter, and listen to the people of California!