California judge leads recent victory against hydraulic fracking

Taylor Atienza, Features Editor

Last September, a U.S. federal judge overturned a federal plan that proposed allowing over one million acres of land in California to be used for hydraulic fracking.

Hydraulic fracking, or fracking, is a method of obtaining natural oil and gas from the ground by injecting fluids into the earth. The fluid forces pockets of oil to form, which allows for easier extraction.

Mr. Brendon Cummings, the conservation director of the Center for Biological Diversity states, “This is a huge victory in the fight to protect our water and wildlife from fracking pollution and dangerous drilling” (Center for Biological Diversity).

The ruling comes as a result of a lawsuit presented by the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch. The court believed the Bureau of Land Management hadn’t provided sufficient analysis on the environmental consequences of opening the land to fracking.

In addition to the environmental drawbacks that fracking contributes to, there are also critical impacts on human lives. The fluids used to create pockets of oil for extraction contains a plethora of dangerous chemicals, 29 of which are linked to cancer and a number of other health conditions (CAFrackFacts).

Also among the questionable materials in the fluid is silica sand, a material that when released into the air as dust can increase the risk for Silicosis and lung cancer, affecting workers and others in close proximity to the sites. This is particularly concerning, as in areas such as Los Angeles, where 352,724 children attend a school within a mile of an oil or gas well. A minimum of 217 of these wells use fracking or other extraction methods (CAFrackFacts).

“I am very concerned that the young workers coming into our business today will have more respiratory health problems than even we experienced unless these exposures are better controlled.” says Eddie Mallon, a retired miner (The Guardian).

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also issued a hazard alert about the effects of the substance, stating “The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identified exposure to airborne silica as a health hazard to workers conducting some hydraulic fracturing operations during recent field studies” (NIOSH).

Fracking has continued to as it has made its mark on people within the industry, and communities around it, as well as the environment. The ruling is a small step, albeit a significant one, in the efforts to stop hydraulic fracking.