School Board Passes Altered Resolution On Fracking
The Culver City School Board voted to support a ban on the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in oil drilling at its July 24 meeting—but only after a discussion that resulted in passing the resolution in a diluted form.
The modified resolution was passed as a result of disagreement between Board members, two of whom thought it was premature to pass the resolution as submitted because they said they had not had time to read and understand a state bill on fracking, support for which bill was included in the resolution.
It had been decided at the July 10 meeting that the Board needed to follow the City Council’s lead by passing a resolution to ban fracking statewide via AB 972, a state bill currently pending in the Legislature that would add, repeal, and amend language in the California State Health and Safety Code to place a moratorium on fracking until regulations governing hydraulic fracturing have been adopted.
The bill would also define, among others, the terms “hydraulic fracturing fluid” and “proppants” (sand or similar particulate material suspended in water and used in hydraulic fracturing).
The resolution before the Board was worded to urge the state’s Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to “place a ban on hydraulic fracturing,” and urged the legislature to pass AB 972 “forthwith,” as well as encouraging the City Council to place a local ban on fracking.
However, the Board did not have all five members present. Board president Karlo Silbiger was out of town and had left a request that the vote on the fracking resolution be delayed until he returned. Unfortunately, since the July 24 meeting was the last scheduled meeting until September, a vote delayed until that time would come too late, as AB 972 has to be passed and signed by the Governor as of August 31.
An aide from assembly member Betsy Butler, the bill’s co-author, urged support for the bill, emphasizing the August 31 deadline. But several other speakers in public comment said that support for AB 972 would nullify a ban on fracking until it was proven safe.
Anti-fracking activist Dr. Suzanne DeBenedittis asked the Board to delay a vote until more research had been done. “Put off support of AB 972 until you as a Board of Educators take more time to have staff do the needed research to more fully understand this bill. “
She also addressed, one at a time, aspects of the proposed statewide and local bans, and AB 972, for which she had suggestions for improvement.
These included: asking CCUSD that the fracking ban honor the “precautionary principal” by which the burden of proof is put upon the oil producer to demonstrate that their processes do no harm; that AB 972 be tightened by including all the amendments suggested by a number of environmental organizations; and that a symposium be organized to inform locals of the issues.
Board members Patricia Siever and Nancy Goldberg both admitted to not having read the bill. Siever said she wanted to be more informed about what she was approving. She suggested either delaying the vote or changing the resolution to leave out support for the state bill.
Acting Board president Kathy Paspalis wanted the Board to take action without a delay and the motion as worded was brought to a vote but the vote was split 2-2, with Paspalis and Laura Chardiet in favor of the resolution as worded and Siever and Goldberg against it.
Siever’s idea that the resolution be re-worded to leave out support for AB 972 was then submitted as a motion and was passed.