Starting June 6, a ban on fracking will go into effect in Beverly Hills, making it the first municipality in California to say “no” to the harmful gas extraction process, which has been linked with tainted water, earthquakes, and other environmental destruction.
After an initial push for the ban in April, a May 6 city council vote was unanimous in its favor. Council spokesperson Therese Kosterman remarked, “Industrial processes such as mining and oil drilling really are not appropriate in Beverly Hills.” The area has long disliked the fact that fracking operations still occur in neighboring areas, and the practice is seen to raise many red flags for California as a whole, given that the state is largely situated in a seismically active zone.
“This is not a ‘not in my backyard,’ issue,” said council member John Mirsch. “It should not be in anyone’s backyard. And we also need to think long-term, even if our city is not a center of drilling; injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals at high pressure into the earth can’t be good.”
Meanwhile, the city of Los Angeles is paying attention, and taking steps of its own to do away with fracking. LA’s city councilman Mike Bonin said, “Fracking and other unconventional drilling is happening here in Los Angeles, and without the oversight and review to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Sen. Mark Leno, D-Calif., added, “We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination, and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water.”
Activists in Beverly Hills now hope the state itself will look to the example they are setting. Brenna Norton, southern California organizer of Food & Water Watch, remarked, “We look forward to seeing this ordinance take effect and setting a positive example for other communities and Gov. Brown, who should immediately enact a statewide moratorium on fracking to protect all Californians.”
Ashley Kissinger, project manager from Esperanza Community Housing, a south LA community development company, said she hopes that at the very least, her city follows in Beverly Hills’ footsteps. She noted that a fracking site in south LA owned by AllenCo, an oil and gas well servicing company, has caused many problems for the people exposed to the operations there. “Residents have felt the effects of spontaneous nosebleeds, lingering headaches, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of smell. Families have been in and out of emergency rooms due to these burdening symptoms, which are all relative to exposure to hydrocarbons. The city of Beverly Hills gives us hope that more cities, in California and nationwide, will initiate similar bans and prioritize the community’s health over potential profit.”