The March For Real Climate Leadership was held in Oakland on Feb 7, 2015. Roughly 8,000 people took part in the largest demonstration against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in U.S. history. Folks from all over the state called on Governor Jerry Brown to end fracking in California. Demonstrators and speakers voiced support for investment in safe, renewable energy and policies that would reduce the extraction, use, and burning of fossil fuels. New York State and Vermont recently banned fracking citing risks to public health and drinking water contamination. In addition many local counties and townships across the U.S. and the countries of France, Scotland, Whales and Bulgaria have also banned the practice.
Fracking is an industrial procedure that pumps enormous amounts of toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens, underground in order to extract oil and natural gas. At the end of 2014, there were over one million active fracking wells in the U.S. It is estimated that each well uses between two and five million gallons of local freshwater each time the well is fracked, all of which becomes permanently tainted by a mixture of dangerous chemicals. This waste fluid is often pumped back underground by oil and gas companies for disposal and has led to drinking water and aquifer contamination and serious public health issues at sites all over the world.
In 2014, billions of gallons of toxic fracking waste fluid was illegally pumped into California aquifers, contaminating drinking and farm irrigation water with threatening levels of a barrage of chemicals including benzene, toluene, arsenic and thallium (used in rat poison). In addition, new scientific studies have found that fracking is also a major source of air pollution with serious risks for human health and is possibly lethal to infants.
Many corporations that use the practice of fracking claim it is completely safe, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This intentional effort by industry to obfuscate the truth is tragically similar to the tobacco industry’s well documented campaigns to fight facts and manufacture doubt about the science linking smoking and cancer. According to reporting by ProPublica, “over the past few decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation’s geology as an invisible dumping ground.” Currently, there is very little government oversight or regulation to safeguard against such dangerous industrial practices.
If you’re unfamiliar with fracking, watch short videos that describe the process and its dangers here and here. Here’s a link to a map of all the sites in the U.S. where fracking is currently used. For an in-depth look at fracking in the U.S., watch the film Gas Land by Josh Fox.
UPDATE (March 20, 2015): The White House regulated fracking, but the new rules are weak and only apply to fracking on federal lands. Watch more here.The above clip is a collection of sounds from the demonstration.
Click play for audio to accompany the photo essay.
The following nonsense is mainly for the search engine robots. Read on, if you like. Drew is an Oakland Freelance Photographer and a San Francisco Freelance Photographer and a Bay area Freelance Photographer, a bay area conservation photographer, an Oakland wedding photojournalist and a San Francisco wedding photojournalist and a bay area event photographer and a Berkeley photographer; while he is based in the Bay area, Drew regularly photographs for clients throughout all of California, including Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, San Jose, Marin County, Santa Cruz, Eureka, Santa Rosa, Mendocino, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbra, and Napa, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Nevada, all across the USA and everywhere on Earth. He specializes in creative storytelling and artistic photojournalism, environmental photojournalism, conservation photography, environmental justice photography, and stories about human-earth relationships including urban farming, agriculture, water use, climate change, ocean issues, energy issues, pollution, and natural resource economics. You can view more of his photojournalism, editorial, and lifestyle work here and more of his documentary style wedding work here.