Californians March for Real Climate Leadership Against Fracking

Oakland Thousands demand Jerry Brown ban fracking.P/v @ethanbuckner

Thousands demand Jerry Brown ban fracking. P/v @ethanbuckner

OAKLAND — Despite early rain, 8,000 Californians took to the streets of Oakland today for the March for Real Climate Leadership, the largest demonstration against fracking in U.S. history. This crowd count makes today’s event nearly two times larger than last year’s historic anti-fracking rally, Don’t Frack California. The marchers, representing a broad coalition of organizations including labor unions, local environmental justice groups, and national NGOs, demanded Governor Jerry Brown step up and truly lead in the fight against climate change by ending the use of fracking in California.

Numerous studies and reports have shown fracking worsens climate change, exacerbates California’s historic drought, and jeopardizes the health of residents. The science has persuaded other state leaders, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, to step up and take action against the practice. Yet despite Gov. Brown’s stated ambition for California to be an international leader in the fight against climate change, he has thus far refused to take a stance against fracking, which has been shown to be a risky and carbon-intensive form of oil extraction.

“Fracking is hurting our communities. It is sucking our drought-ridden state of precious water resources, contaminating our groundwater in a region where 25 percent of the nation’s food is grown, and contributing to the impending climate crisis,” UC Berkeley student Eva Malis told a crowd at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, in front of Oakland City Hall.

“Oil companies had made California citizens feel powerless and silenced, for our governor seems to only be listening to their money,” Malis said.

Organizers chose Oakland as the site for the March for Real Climate Leadership because of Gov. Brown’s unique relationship with the city, which he once served as Mayor and has long called home. Today’s events kicked off with a press conference on the steps of Oakland City Hall, where seven speakers with unique backgrounds laid out seven different arguments against fracking. 8,000 Californians then marched to Lake Merritt for a rally demanding action from Gov. Brown to end fracking in the state.

The march includes a children’s contingent, complete with story telling, teach-ins, puppet shows, and seed planting. “The plan is to have a bunch of activities where kids can learn in an age-appropriate way about the issue,” Carolyn Norr, organizer with Families Against Fossil Fuels, told Common Dreams. “Without overwhelming or scaring them, we are talking with children about how water is for plants and people and not hurting the earth.”

“They’re going to be dealing with the issue of climate change their whole lives,” Norr continued, “so we’re starting them early, teaching them they can be a part of the solution and a source of hope.”

“The oil industry’s toxic waste stream has proven to be unmanageable and an immediate threat to California’s drinking and irrigation water supply,” said Andrew Grinberg of Clean Water Action. “As we’ve learned recently about oil companies injecting into high quality groundwater and dumping toxic waste into open pits, it has become clear that the State isn’t up to the task of protecting our water or health. In the midst of the most extreme drought on record, this is unacceptable.” The March for Real Climate Leadership was composed of a broad coalition of activists, including: indigenous communities, healthcare professionals, artists, clean water activists, parents, and families. Today’s march also continued building the deepening relationship between climate activists and organized labor, with an impressive contingent representing local unions. 

Protesters are bringing messages of racial and global justice in the face of a climate crisis that disproportionately affects people of color, poor communities, and the global south.

Common Dreams

Mercury News

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Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News