Much ado about "fracking" -

Much ado about "fracking"

There has been a growing conflict between extracting our natural resources and protecting community safety. Hydraulic fracturing—or "fracking," for short—is an effective way to mine oil and natural gas, but it is also thought to put communities at risk. Here's how some neighborhood groups are fighting fracking when it hits too close to home.

Fracking extracts fuel locked in tight rock formations deep within the earth, using explosions and highly pressured water containing dozens of chemicals. It's those chemicals that many fear seep into drinking water supplies.

The Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland put a spotlight on communities impacted by what they believe are the destructive effects of fracking and the waste water it produces. But water contamination isn't their only concern —add earthquakes to the growing list, along with structural damage to homes.

In earthquake-prone California, the idea of fracking is especially frightening to people who live near oil fields and active fault lines, like these in Windsor Hills, a section of Los Angeles.

Gary Gless has spent more than five years rallying his neighbors in a fight to prevent fracking.

"We're talking about earthquake country," says Gary. "And they're going to be doing this on our fault line. I mean, where is the common sense in this?"

Fracking is now being tested on specific wells near Gless' home. He says standard oil drilling alone has caused expensive damage to his home and is worried what could happen if fracking is added to the mix.

"We had to replace this whole window because of the movement; it cracked all the way through," says Gary. "I noticed this crack in the wall, and as I followed it down, I crawled underneath the house to find out my foundation is cracked."

Alecia Molezion-Smith is seeing similar damage to her house.

"In order not to have this portion of the house fall, literally fall off the foundation, we had to get these support beams done, and this is how we've had to protect ourselves," says Alecia.

The California Independent Petroleum Association says fracking is a perfectly safe process with no links to environmental damage. But for Gary Gless, industry reports don't provide enough assurance.

He says if fracking is happening in your area, the first thing to do is come together as a community.

"Get your neighbors knowledgeable about what's going on," says Gary. "Leaflet the community. Go to your churches. Go to your neighborhood associations; let them know this is what's happening. We have to get the information to everybody here and show them the pros and cons and let every individual make up their minds."

Gless says it can feel like a David and Goliath struggle, but he reminds people who live near fracking operations that there truly is strength in numbers. And, he says, demand answers from oil companies and officials.

With more than 250 measures passed to ban fracking, communities across the country are seeing results.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

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