By Shoshanna Howard

Lately, every time I take a sip of water from my faucet I can’t help but wonder, when will this be contaminated? When will this run out? California’s drought is worsening, and as expansion of hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) builds across the state, I can’t help but ponder these questions.

Surely you’ve heard the buzz around fracking. It’s sweeping the nation from Pennsylvania to Texas to Oklahoma and Colorado. There have been movies, documentaries, community driven actions, and protests across the country in opposition to this toxic extraction process. Oil companies are on the hunt for natural gas, which was painted to be the nation’s energy gateway (drug) to renewables. However, in California, the oil beneath the shale rock is a crude oil that has been noted to be as dirty as, or dirtier than, tar sands from Canada.

The really bad news, fracking is already happening in California. Did you know that? Probably not. In November, an underhanded law (SB4) passed giving oil companies free range to continue and expand fracking across the state under strict “regulation.” These regulatory standards are absurd since the oil companies are determining the barometer of quality control.

Over 700+ chemicals are used in conjunction with billions of barrels of water—clean water—in the extraction process. The full list of chemicals is not readily disclosed due to patent rights, but it is known that carcinogens (benzene among them) are used in the process. If that doesn’t rattle you, think about this: California is in a severe drought, we are an agricultural hub with a population near 40 million. Yet, water, our most precious resource and life force, is being put into peril all in the name of taking oil from the Earth.

Adding to these serious concerns, fracking is linked to earthquakes, contamination of water and air, and causing illnesses in the communities in which it functions. Exxon Mobile CEO, Rex Tillerson, thinks fracking is a great idea for profits but recently began a lawsuit in response to the building of a container that would house water for fracking near his Texas home. If this guy, an oil company CEO who touted fracking as the future of energy, is fighting against fracking in his neighborhood, then why shouldn’t we?

I’m tired of the extraction, the overconsumption, the complete disregard for the environment and exhausted by the idea that we deserve to take resources from the earth without committing to giving back, to contributing to the ecological system. As a resident of California, and as a person who sees Oakland as my permanent home, I am dismayed by the potential continuation of fracking. That’s why I’m working to stop it.

On March 15th, 2014 at 1pm, thousands of Californians from across the state will be convening in Sacramento to rally at the capitol, demanding Governor Brown ban fracking in the state. From beginning to end, fracking is a terrible idea, and it must be stopped. Join the movement, today at

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. 

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