West Los Angeles College to Host Fracking Seminar

WLA College will host a seminar on hydraulic fracturing and the democratic process entitled “Fracking: The LA Story” Saturday, March 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. .West Angeles College is located at 9000 Overland Ave, Culver City, CA 90230. Registration for the seminar at West LA College will take place from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Coffee will be served.

Co-hosts of the event along with West Los Angeles College are Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, Baldwin Hills Oil Watch, Make Culver City Safe, and Transition Culver City and the event is supported by Sierra Club and Money Out/ Voters In.

Hydraulic fracturing is the highly controversial practice commonly known as “fracking.” This is a means of extracting hard-to-get oil using highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals. Critics are concerned about toxic air emissions, pollution of groundwater and earthquakes in a densely populated urban area. Local activists from Culver City and Los Angeles–including academics and physicians–have been advocating for a moratorium or ban on fracking, in particular because the oil company PXP has announced it will employ fracking in the Baldwin Hills Oil Field, located adjacent to West LA College in Culver City and Baldwin Hills.

The program will open with remarks by West Los Angeles College president, Abu-Ghazaleh , followed by introductory remarks by WLA College student and faculty representatives
James Dahlgren, MD, a member of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Advisory Committee with the UCLA Department of Medicine and co-chair of the Heavy Metals Subcommittee at the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, will discuss health hazards associated with chemicals used in the “fracking” process.

C. Tom Williams, Ph.D, a retired geologist and a representative of Sierra Club CalFrac, will present the history of fracking, while Paul Ferrazzi, Executive Director of Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, will explain the impact of fracking as it relates to earthquakes, and air and water quality.

Culver City Councilmember Meghan Sahli-Wells will speak about local government’s role in providing public health and safety. “It’s encouraging to see Culver City residents so actively involved in learning and sharing information about hydraulic fracturing,” Sahli-Wells wrote in an e-mail. “There is a great amount of concern over the practice both locally and worldwide, but surprisingly few people know that it’s going on in such a densely populated urban area as Los Angeles County. I hope this seminar will help the West L.A. College community get vital information about the issue.”

Gary Silbiger, a former mayor of Culver City, will discuss a proposal for a community ballot initiative intended to restrict Culver City or any municipality from allowing fracking and explain the method to change a city charter so that citizens can obtain protections. When asked about the proposal for a community ballot initiative, Mr. Silbiger said, “In a participatory democracy, placing items on a ballot for a vote serves two fundamental goals – the ability to educate, engage, and organize our community; and to vote for a proposal that will resolve major issues that the elected officials either refuse to, or cannot, accomplish. Passing a strong anti-fracking ballot initiative will protect our neighborhoods from severe health and safety concerns while at the same time demonstrate to other communities that a unified voice has power beyond our dreams.”

Lance Simmens, Former Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, will describe the effects of fracking in Pennsylvania contrasted to fracking in California.

Olga Shewfelt, Professor of International Relations will provide closing remarks. Audience members will be invited to adjourn to an Action Plan Center, hosted by local and national organizations.

A campus map can be accessed at http://www.wlac.edu/wlac2phone/employees/wlac_map.pdf. Free parking will be available in the South Parking Structure only, off Albert Vera Street. For more information about the seminar, the public can contact [email protected] and visit http://makeccsafe.com/fracking-event/, http://baldwinhillsoilwatch.org/ and www.ccfasc.org.

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