Are you so passionate about an issue that you would be willing to board a charter bus at 1:00 am in the morning, ride for 10 hours to a rally, spend three hours at the rally holding signs, chanting, listening to speakers, marching, and then immediately re-board the bus for another all night 10 hour ride home? That’s exactly what 50 San Diegans did on the weekend of March 15th including club members Peg Mitchell (the organizer of the bus), and Nancy Oechsle.
It was well worth the trip as over 4,000 people traveled to Sacramento to tell Governor Jerry Brown “Don’t Frack California”! Fracking has begun to happen more frequently in our state, and it is poised to take off in a major way if exploration yields the kind of success predicted.
Fracking uses massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals to crack rock formations underground in order to reach oil and gas. Many issues from environmental devastation, induced earthquakes and water contamination to detrimental public health impacts have been well documented and connected to fracking across the country, including instances right here in California. The coalition “Californians Against Fracking” is working to raise the awareness of these issues and lobby the state legislature to place a moratorium on the practice until all of these risks are understood and mitigated.
The rally organized by Californians Against Fracking was the largest in the country on this topic. Every part of the state was represented as were many different impacted citizen groups. The rally opened with a prayer ceremony by Spiritual Leader and Tribal Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe along the McCloud Watershed of Northern California. Carrying signs ranging from “Honor Tribal Water Rights” to the more provocative “Gov. Brown Is a Fracking Mother Earth Molestor,” hundreds of California Indians representing the Winnemem Wintu, Miwok, Chumash, Hoopa Valley, Karuk, Yurok, Lakota, Ohlone, Pomo and many other tribes voiced a unified position against the practice.
Other speakers followed, all making the case for why fracking for dirty oil is not the kind of policy a climate leading state should endorse. Rosa Lupez, Rodrigo Romo, and Javier Cruz, three Central Valley community residents that work with the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment and Erin Bustillos from the California Nurses Association detailed the impact these industrial activities are having on the health of their families and communities. Wes Adrianson and Kristy Drutman from UC Berkeley “Students Against Fracking” pleaded for their future as climate change impacts are already bearing down on us. Farmer Tom Frantz and Professor Tim Krantz talked about the contamination of almond groves from leaking evaporation pits and illegal disposal of contaminated fracking fluids and the impact to our water. Pennie Opal Plant, a Native American activist and small business owner from Richmond came with the bay area affinity group “Idle No More”, a mass movement for Indigenous rights and resistance to global corporate colonization. And no rally would be complete without music. Performers included a Pete Seeger look and sound alike, and the “Raging Grannies” serenading the rallyers as they marched.
After the speakers concluded, rallyers encircled the Capitol building as a symbolic demonstration of the pressure being put on Governor Brown to change course and stop fracking in California.
Back on the bus, “San Diegans Against Fracking” knew they faced another long ride and all nighter, but all felt satisfied and glad that they had participated in this historical event.