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Dozens turn out in Ventura to give input on state report on fracking

VENTURA, Calif. — Several dozen people sat in a Ventura auditorium Tuesday to get a chance to tell state officials what they thought of a study on fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, involves injecting a mixture of water and chemicals into oil and natural gas wells to create cracks in the rock and trigger production.

The state last month released a draft report that identified potential environmental impacts of fracking and other well-stimulation treatments. Those included significant impacts in the Sespe Oil Field north of Fillmore in Los Padres National Forest.

“We encourage those comments about all aspects of the draft EIR,” James Pierce, senior staff counsel for the state Department of Conservation, said Tuesday.

“That’s much easier said than done. We want you to know that we recognize that,” he said. “The draft EIR is voluminous. It’s 5,000 pages, with many, many maps, many many appendices. It’s a huge task, and a huge task to digest it and comment on it.”

Officials are holding several meetings throughout the state to receive comments on the draft report. The first one was Tuesday in the Ventura College Performing Arts Center. Written comments also will be received until March 16.

In related news, Thousands to march in Northern California against fracking.

More than 30 people spoke at the meeting, most about concerns related to fracking, a lack of studies of its impacts, its effects on wildlife such as the endangered California condor, and a need for alternative energy.

About a dozen asked officials to look at the economic impacts on the oil and gas industry and the job market.

Zachary Schultz, a student at CSU Channel Islands, said he’s concerned about jobs when he graduates.

“I ask that the final EIR takes into consideration the positive economic impact that the energy sector has for California,” he said.

Alasdair Coyne, of Keep Sespe Wild, said one of the biggest concerns of environmentalists is the lack of study on effects of fracking.

“We just don’t know the answers to the questions of contamination from fracked wells,” he said.

Luke Faith, a senior operator for Seneca Resources Corp., an oil and gas producer in the Sespe, said he grew up in Fillmore and also loves the Sespe.

Fracking has helped unlock oil and gas reserves that allow companies to drill fewer wells, he said.

“This actually allows us to reduce our footprint in areas such as the Sespe,” he said,

Before the hearing, a few dozen people gathered outside, carrying signs in protest of fracking. Nancy Mauthe was with them and later gave her comments in the meeting.

“I want fracking to stop,” she said. “I want that condor to keep flying and keep having babies up there. I don’t want fracking in Ventura County.”

On the Net: Visit http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dog for the draft report and information about submitting written comments.

This article was written by Cheri Carlson from Ventura County Star and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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