Days after possibly the largest anti-fracking protest in history, environmentalists delivered a petition to California Gov. Jerry Brown demanding a ban on the controversial practice.
The petition, which contained 184,000 signatures, was delivered Monday by a coalition of environmental progress groups, including the California-based Courage Campaign, Daily Kos, 350.org, Food and Water Watch, CREDO, Environmental Action, Presente, Forecast the Facts, and RH Reality Check.
“Gov. Brown has painted a bold vision to make California a global leader on climate change, but he has made zero mention of the extreme dangers of fracking or made any substantial attempt to address it,” the Courage Campaign's Tim Molina said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “We met with Governor Brown to urge him to follow the lead of New York Governor Cuomo and acknowledge the real threat that fracking poses to the health and safety of our communities – and implement a statewide ban on fracking."
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of blasting water, chemicals and sand into the earth to break up rocks and free oil and natural gas.
While the California Department of Conservation holds that the method has been used in the state for 30 years with no reported damage to the environment, conservationists point to studies that have found that fracking can contaminate groundwater -- a major concern as California suffers through its fourth year of historic drought -- and that exposure to chemicals associated with fracking are linked to infertility, birth defects and other reproductive issues.
Last year, these health and safety concerns prompted Beverly Hills to become the first city in California to ban fracking. New York became the first state to do so when it announced a ban in December, following a six-year moratorium on the practice.
While Brown announced three ambitious energy goals last month, environmentalists say the fracking regulations he approved in 2013 -- that allow the practice as long as companies obtain permits and notify neighbors -- don’t go far enough.
"We told Governor Brown that climate leaders don’t frack," Molina said. "We hope he listens.”
When asked to respond to protesters who say Brown's stance on fracking undercuts his leadership on climate change, the governor emphasized the need to meet current energy demands while the state makes progress toward implementing alternative sources.
"[...] As we speak protesters and non-protesters are burning up gasoline that is being shipped from Iraq, from Russia, from Venezuela and all sorts of other places and coming in on trains," he said, according to transcripts Brown's office sent to HuffPost, "so whatever we don’t do here we are going to get from somewhere else until we can get that moratorium on driving, which I haven’t heard proposed yet by anybody."
This story has been updated to include comments sent from Brown's office.