Ventura, CA –Dozens of activists from Earth First!, American Indian Movement Southern California, and Wica Agli demonstrated at the offices of California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) in Ventura Monday morning, protesting the plan to pursue further slick water horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the ecologically sensitive Sespe watershed.
Approximately 50 people chanted and held banners reading “Save Water, Don’t Frack!” while dozens of activists entered the office and served a notice of eviction to DOGGR.
Fracking in the Sespe Oil Field is currently being done by Seneca Resources Corporation, a Texas-based company receiving chemicals, supplies, and other services from Halliburton. A recent DOGGR Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) highlighted the Sespe Oil Field because of its remote location and critical habitat for endangered species. The study determined that fracking in this area would result in seven different “significant and unavoidable Class I impacts,”1 including pollution of water in the Sespe Creek watershed and degradation of cultural sites of the Chumash People. In spite of substantial evidence of environmental impact, DOGGR continues to be complacent in the destruction of the Sespe Watershed.
“We are here to send the message that Seneca Resources Corporation and DOGGR need to stop their trespass and theft of water in the Sespe Watershed,” said Jason Dean, Santa Barbara resident and member of Earth First! “The resources that they use and regulate do not belong to them.”
“Seneca Resources and DOGGR are illegitimate agents acting on stolen Chumash land,” said Gray Wolf, a Yoemi Elder with American Indian Movement Southern California.
Seneca Resources already fracks heavily in the Sespe Oil Field, and DOGGR is set to approve eight new wells in the Sespe Watershed. Sespe Creek is the last undammed waterway in Southern California2 and critical habitat for many endangered species, including steelhead trout, red-legged frogs, and arroyo toads. It is bordered on three sides by the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, which facilitates the recovery of the critically endangered California condor.
“Water belongs to no individual or corporation, but to the ecological community that relies on it, and people are a part of that,” said Dean. “In a fracked world, water is undrinkable; a fracked world is uninhabitable.”
Given California’s current water crisis, it is socially irresponsible for DOGGR to allow Sespe Creek to be poisoned by the toxic chemicals used in fracking. Fracking a well once requires two to eight million gallons of water. During a time that numerous water wells are running dry throughout central and Southern California, we do not need DOGGR to regulate fracking, we need fracking to stop immediately. This morning’s protest comes in the wake of fracking bans in New York, Vermont, and Los Angeles, as well as the largest anti-fracking march in history in Oakland, and civil disobedience actions in San Francisco. Earth First! stands in solidarity with all people resisting fracking around the world.