Flanked by signs that read “Protect our Water” and “Ban Fracking Now,” a host of speakers spoke out Tuesday at a press conference in opposition to oil and gas drilling practices known as hydraulic fracking.
The event, which took place at the Kenneth Hahn Soccer Fields overlooking the Inglewood Oil Field in Baldwin Hills, was hosted by Food and Water Watch, a national consumer organization that aims to keep food, fish and water supplies safe. Members of the group said enough is enough.
“It’s largely an uncontrolled public health experiment,” said Kristin Lynch, the Pacific Region Director for Food and Water Watch. “Fracking throughout the country has caused surface and groundwater contamination, air pollution and is ultimately contributing to global climate change.”
Fracking has also caused “economic woes” and left “plummeting property values in its wake,” Lynch said. Nearly 50,000 Californians have signed a petition to ask elected officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, to ban fracking, according to Lynch.
Filmmaker Josh Fox, writer and director of the film, Gasland, which is about the practice of fracking, also addressed the crowd.
“When you think of this as complete insanity, it is,” Fox said. “The best thing you can do is arm yourself with the facts. People are being poisoned in their own communities.”
Other supporters offered their own views, including activist Gary Gless and Paul Ferrazzi, executive director of Citizen's Coalition for a Safe Community. Ferrazzi called the practice of fracking “a dangerous and destructive process on all counts.”
Quinton James, who lives nearby on Cloverdale Avenue, said he wanted to attend the press conference because of his concerns about oil wells in the area.
“We’ve had a lot of cancers on the street we live on,” James said. “My neighbors have complained about smells and odors.”
Another attendee, Dianne Thomas, said the organizers inspired her to put together a community meeting this weekend in Carson, where she lives.
“Fracking for us is now the new F-word,” Thomas said.
However, Scott Macdonald said it is important for people to know there is another side to the issue. He was on hand to dole out copies of a white paper summary on “Hydraulic Fracturing” on behalf of the California Independent Petroleum Association.
“It doesn’t make sense to ban,” Macdonald said. “After 50 years of doing this, there’s not one incident of water contamination that has been attributed to fracking.”
George Minter, a local energy development consultant, agreed.
“There’s no reason why you can’t do fracking safely,” Minter said.
A state Senate bill requiring well operators and owners to notify area neighbors before any fracking or drilling operations take place passed its first committee hearing last month. Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) is the author of the bill known as Senate Bill 1054.
A was held in March in Culver City to discuss neighbors’ concerns about fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field.