SPRECKELS, Calif. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told a news conference on Wednesday he favors a nationwide ban on fracking and warned that it would be “disastrous” to let oil and gas companies use fracking to exploit oil and gas reserves along California’s continental shelf.
The U.S. Department of the Interior on Friday released two reports that could clear the way for underwater ocean fracking. “Make no mistake: this was a very bad decision by the federal government that will not be allowed to stand if I have anything to say about it,” Sanders told a news conference here near Monterey Bay. “Offshore fracking has the potential to pollute the ocean with toxic fluid, hurt the environment and harm our beautiful beaches. That risk to me is unacceptable.”
Sanders is a co-sponsor of legislation in the U.S. Senate with Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer to end the extraction of all fossil fuels on public lands, including in federal waters. If passed, the bill would stop the fracking approved by the administration last week.
Sanders favors a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing because it endangers water supplies and because burning fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, does not support a nationwide ban.
“Secretary Clinton in one way or another wants to quote unquote ‘regulate’ fracking. I think it is too late for regulating. I think fracking has got to be banned in America,” Sanders said. He also noted that Clinton promoted the dangerous technology around the world when she was secretary of state.
The toxic chemicals used in fracking can cause cancer and birth defects. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Academy of Sciences have shown clear evidence that fracking can lead to a contaminated water supply. The pollution from fracking causes nausea, nosebleeds, headaches and high rates of asthma and other respiratory illness.
The threat of Methane emissions from fracking also presents a profound danger to our climate. Methane traps more than 86 times the heat of carbon dioxide in the short term. A report published last week by Environment America found that “newly fracked wells released 2.4 million metric tons of methane in 2014 — equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 22 coal-fired power plants.”
The growing body of evidence finds that fracking is a huge danger to the water supply – a precious resource in the Golden State. It takes 160,000 gallons of clean water to frack just one well. With California in the midst of a five-year drought, it makes no sense to allow fracking in California.
Monterey County voters will consider a local ballot initiative in November to ban fracking and all new oil drilling. Santa Cruz, San Benito and Mendocino counties already have banned fracking. Sanders’ home state of Vermont was the first state in the nation to ban fracking in 2012.
“In my view, if we are serious about safe and clean drinking water; if we are serious about clean air; if we are serious about protecting the health of our children and families; and if we are serious about combatting climate change, we need to put an end to fracking all over this country,” Sanders said.
To read Sanders’ plan to stop the worst effects of climate change, click here.