On February 7th, thousands of Californians marched in the streets of downtown Oakland in what has been billed as the largest anti-fracking rally in U.S. history. They were there to demand real climate leadership from Governor Jerry Brown, calling for a shift to 100% renewable energy and an end to fracking and other dangerous oil activities that harm our water, our health and our communities. The historic march was organized by a broad coalition of groups from all over California, with the common refrain that “real climate leaders don’t frack.”
Those most affected by climate change led the march, including native and indigenous groups, such as native Pacific Islanders affected by rising oceans, and community members from the fracking frontlines in Kern County, Calif., where the majority of the state’s fracking currently takes place. Protesters marched approximately two miles for a rally with art, music and inspiring speakers.
Juan Flores, a community organizer at the Center on Race, Poverty, & the Environment, spoke of the impacts of fracking in Kern County:
These fracking sites are located next door to our homes, schools and food sources, and we are suffering the health and environmental effects. Last year we asked the Governor to come and see the reality of fracking and he refused. So we are coming to his hometown instead to deliver the message: we need to ban fracking!
Several Earthjustice staff members marched in the demonstration, and we were honored to witness the enthusiastic energy and creativity of all those who attended. From beautiful, high-flying banners, to children dressed as sharks against fracking, to the “Ocupella” choir singing anti-fracking songs, to a kayak flotilla with banners raised high in the neighborhood, Californians showed off their most creative anti-fracking selves.
We’re also inspired because we know what it takes to stop the fracking industry. After seeing the recent success of New York’s statewide ban on fracking, we know what can happen when both citizen pressure and the law are applied to protect our water, health and communities. After attending the rally, I know one thing is clear: Californians are ready to apply that pressure.