North Orange County Prepares for Fracking Forum

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Controversy over the oil well drilling method known as fracking continues to heat up in north Orange County, with local residents and city councils gearing up for a forum next month on the issue.

This week, La Habra city staff are asking council members whether they want to co-sponsor the forum, scheduled for Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Student Union building.

And in Yorba Linda, city staff are recommending that their City Council co-sponsor the event.

The two city councils meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Some advocates are also expected to speak at Tuesday’s Brea City Council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

Next month’s forum is slated to bring together experts and industry representatives on the science and regulatory rules on fracking.

The forum was requested by Fullerton city officials after fracking sparked community concerns there and across North County several months ago.

Data from state water officials shows that six oil wells have been fracked in Yorba Linda, some of which are in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

Residents in north Orange County are starting to organize against fracking, which has also been conducted near homes just north of Brea.

The debate comes amid a nationwide debate over fracking, known officially as hydraulic fracturing.

As it becomes more and more difficult for oil and gas to be extracted through traditional methods, companies have been turning to fracking, which involves injecting a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals underground to break up rock formations containing fuel.

The method has been praised as the possible trigger for an economic boom that will create millions of jobs nationwide and help shift America off of its dependence on foreign energy sources.

But fracking has also come under intense scrutiny for its environmental impacts. Communities close to natural gas fracking operations in the northeast U.S. have found their groundwater wells to be contaminated with chemicals and methane. The documentary “Gasland” shows now infamous video of residents turning their kitchen faucets into gas torches by lighting the running water on fire.

In preparation for next month’s forum, concerned residents are preparing detailed questions about fracking and its potential impacts, according to Brea-based blogger and commentator Rick Clark.

Clark says he and others will be watching closely to check for potential biases among the expert panelists, not all of whom have been announced.

“I don’t care if they frack or not,” said Clark. “I want the people who make that decision, whether we’re talking about a local city council…or the state or the feds – I want them to have all the information to make an informed decision.”

More information about the forum is available here.

Questions for panelists can be submitted to frackingsymp@fullerton.edu will be vetted by forum moderator Dr. David Bowman, interim dean of the university’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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