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Big Energy Money Foils Fracking Moratorium

California effort defeated in Senate, but "one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!" says Senator Mitchell.

A demonstration outside the California State House in January. (Photo: Food & Water Watch/cc/flickr)

An effort to put a moratorium on fracking in the state of California failed to pass the state Senate on Wednesday following a spending blitz by the energy industry.

With an 18-16 vote, the bill, brought forth by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), was three votes shy of what it needed to move forward. The Sacramento Bee's Capital Alert blog reports that that "four business-friendly Democrats voted against" the moratorium and three other Democrats abstained.

A poll released last week showed that 68 percent of Californians supported the moratorium, but big oil has been pouring money into the state to counter that sentiment. ThinkProgress reported:

The bill’s defeat was widely seen as a win for the state’s large oil lobby, led by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA). The group, according to Truth Out, spent $4.6 million in 2013 on lobbying in California, and has so far spent $1.4 million in just the first 3 months of 2014. Altogether, the oil industry — including WSPA, Chevron, and BP — spent more than $56 million lobbying the California Legislature from 2009 through 2013.

The coalition Californians Against Fracking made the same observation, saying in a statement that the result was "disappointing but not completely unexpected given that the oil industry has spent a whopping $15 million on lobbying activities to defeat the bill and buy influence in Sacramento."

Sen. Mitchell had stressed that the stopping fracking was a matter of environmental justice, a point echoed by Latino advocacy organization

"It's disappointing to see our leaders in Sacramento fail to pass a moratorium on fracking, siding with the powerful oil and gas industry at the expense of the health of our families and climate," the organization's Executive Director Arturo Carmona stated. "Latinos will bear the brunt of the worst effects of fracking in California — from poisoned water to asthma, and are in the areas worst affected by climate change across the nation."

"We will remember who stood with us, and who chose to poison our families for the sake of corporate profits. Shame on every member of the California Senate today who voted to throw Latino families under the bus," Carmona stated.

Mitchell added, "People’s neighborhoods aren’t fodder for fracking. Environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!"


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