Putting Fracking in California on the Map
We are slowly coming to terms with the fact that we live in an age marked by extreme weather. We’ve been even slower to realize it’s also an age marked by extreme fossil fuel extraction. One of the latest of these methods is high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. “Fracking” has become a hot topic on the East Coast, where there has been huge public pushback in states like Pennsylvania in which numerous residents have reported water contamination and health issues – and in New York, where residents are advocating for a ban on the practice.
Fracking has also become a huge industry in Texas, Colorado, North Dakota and other states. In California, however, the issue has largely flown under the radar. As a participant in the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, I hope to shed some light on how fracking is impacting California communities already and what could happen if large areas of the Monterey Shale under Central California and the southern San Joaquin Valley are opened up for fracking.
My work would focus on writing about and photographing communities that have been impacted by fracking, including several in the L.A.-area such as Culver City and Baldwin Hills where 150,000 people live within a mile and a half of the oil field. The story would also examine what the potential health risks are and how state agencies plan to regulate the industry.
My goal for the project is to have readers understand the immediate health implications of our energy choices and get to know the people who bear the burden of our energy decisions and the communities most affected.