Pierce College sits uncomfortably close to the epicenter of the Jan. 17, 1994 earthquake in Northridge, Calif. that killed 60, injured more than 7,000, and caused millions of dollars in damage.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” a new method for extracting natural gasses from the ground using pressurized, chemical-laden water, has been associated with causing seismic activity, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Fracking has also been linked to numerous other health concerns such as cancerous air particulates like benzene, a chemical found in tobacco smoke, according to the Colorado School of Public Health.
Unanimous passage of a resolution on Wednesday by the Los Angeles Community College District board to halt hydraulic fracturing in nearby oil fields intended to send a strong message of protest to Gov. Jerry Brown.
More research is needed before permits should be issued, according to Nancy Pearlman, trustee and cosponsor of the resolution.
The area of concern, roughly 25 miles from Pierce, is the Inglewood Oil Fields in Baldwin Hills, Calif. which is owned and operated by Plains Exploration & Production Co. Their website, inglewoodoilfield.com, supplies numerous studies to combat the fear and anxiety of nearby residents and workers.
But that is not enough for the constituents who petitioned Pearlman and fellow trustee Mona Field to propose the resolution. Nor was it enough for Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, president of West Los Angeles College, a school with a campus near the oil field.
The college campus is “as adjacent as [it] can be” to the oil fields, Abu-Ghazaleh said. “We are very close to an earthquake fault.”
Abu-Ghazaleh has concerns about the ground settling that the years of oil extraction have already caused and how fracking could possibly complicate that issue.
“Without oil extraction and without fracking, we are still near a fault,” he said.
Lance Simmens, adjunct professor of public policy at Santa Monica College, was one of three public speakers who addressed the board members.
“We are going to need to grass roots effort . . . to draw attention to the vast uncertainties of hydraulic fracturing,” Simmens said. “I have seen first-hand the adverse negative effects this can have on individuals and communities.”
Pearlman has been an active environmentalist decades and is helped in bringing Earth Day to LA.
“The West LA community was very upset about it because it’s happening in their backyard,” Pearlman said. “I’m happy to introduce a resolution.”
Even with the resolution’s unanimous approval, trustee Scott Svonkin has some concerns.
“I’m a little concerned about us weighing in on an issue that [doesn’t have] a great deal of clear information from sources,” Svonkin said. “I’ve done a little bit of research and one thing I agree with is we need more information.”
Contributing: Danielle Meegan