Fracking. Sounds like a dirty word, doesn’t it? Or a powerful one… It’s a word that gets your attention, and it should. Over the past year I’ve become familiar with fracking (short for “hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction”) and the potential for fracking in our county, state and nation really has me concerned. A lot of people think fracking is a political issue, but I see it as a public health issue, a property rights issue, a property value issue, and a water quality issue. So if you are a property owner, someone in agribusiness, someone who is concerned about health and our environment, or someone who drinks water, you may want to read on.

It seems that rural property owners and anyone in the agriculture business here in California should be particularly concerned about the potential hazards of fracking. I was stunned a couple of months ago when I mentioned fracking to someone I know who is employed by a major grower, and he knew nothing of the practice (or the related threats to our area and, consequently, to his employer.) There are many unknowns about fracking, but the potential for irreversible damage to our natural resources seems far too high to risk allowing this practice in our region and our nation. Even if the actual drilling didn’t result in problems, the dangerous waste products from the process are a huge concern. As someone in a documentary on fracking stated, “If you’re upset about paying $4 a gallon for gas, just wait until you have to pay double that for fresh water.”

Information is power, and once we’re informed, we can spread the word and take action. Stories from communities all across the nation, where fracking has already occurred, are very frightening, and they reveal the damage to the environment and water quality that can be caused by fracking. Here are a few links to help you learn more about fracking:

Oil and Water Don’t Mix with California Agriculture (High Country News, December 2010)
California growers join greens to query frack safety (Reuters, June 29, 2012)

If you have HBO, please consider watching “Gasland II” a documentary which will be aired July 14-17, or on demand until September 1. http://www.hbo.com/#/schedule/detail/Gasland+Part+II/567098
Our family viewed a screening of it in Monterey last month, and it is compelling. (“Gasland”, the first documentary, is available to watch online at http://www.solarmovie.so/watch-gasland-2010.html.)

At the screening event in Monterey it was recommended that we all contact Governor Brown directly and individually, as he has the power to immediately ban fracking in our state. Seems like a good idea to me, given some counties are already allowing forms of fracking to occur now. Recently, AB 1323, which would have placed a moratorium on fracking in California, died on the Assembly floor. Assemblyman Luis Alejo is one of the legislators who didn’t vote for it (he abstained). You can let him know how you feel about that at (916) 319-2030 or (831) 638-3228.

I urge you to contact Governor Brown, and our local, state and federal representatives to ask for a ban on fracking.
Governor Jerry Brown

California Assembly Members

US House of Representatives

US Senate

Aromas Cares for the Environment (ACE) is a local organization that is keeping folks informed if you’d like to check that out too: aromascares.org Here’s the ACE page with links to other articles and information: https://sites.google.com/site/aromascares/fracking-news-and-info

I am wishing all the best for our county, state and nation (but it takes more than wishing.)

Mindy Scherr
San Juan Bautista Resident