CSUN Discussion on Fracking Draws a Crowd

Fracking_Gasland2_Flyer_1.30.14Dozens of California State University, Northridge faculty, staff, students and community members turned out Thursday, Jan. 30, for a screening of the film “Gasland Part II,” and a panel discussion about the use of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

The screening, which was free and open to the public, was held in the University Student Union’s theater and sponsored by CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability. “Gasland Part II,” which premiered in 2013, argues that the gas industry’s portrayal of natural gas as a clean and safe alternative to oil is a myth and that fracked wells inevitably leak over time, contaminating water and air, hurting families and endangering the earth’s climate with the potent greenhouse gas, methane.

“Fracking is a big issue involving the whole country,” said Helen Cox, director of CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability and moderator for the panel. “We are advocating for a moratorium on fracking until we have more answers to some of the questions.”

Fracking is the popular term used for hydraulic fracturing. It’s a water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid — a mix of water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer — are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This releases extra oil and gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation that requires some disclosure of chemicals used in the process and notification of residents before work starts. Groundwater testing and other oversight measures are also put in place for fracking and other well stimulation techniques. Members of the Los Angeles City Council have also called for a fracking moratorium in the city of Los Angeles.

“The oil and gas industry has proven time and again to not really care neither for the environment nor for the communities they drill,” said Maria D’Orsogna, a professor in the Department of Mathematics who has recently successfully fought against proposed off-shore drilling near Abruzzo, Italy and was a participant on Thursday’s panel discussion. “What we need is not more oil and gas operations in this country, but rather a serious policy to promote conservation, energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy.”

The film was followed by a panel discussion that included D’Orsogna; Alexandra Nagy, the Southern California organizer of Food & Water Watch; and Andy Shrader, deputy of environmental affairs and sustainability for the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz.

For more information, contact CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability.