Fracking In California Under Spotlight As Some Local Municipalities Issue Bans

LOST HILLS, CA - MARCH 24: The sun rises over an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom on March 24, 2014 near Lost Hills, California. Critics of fracking in California cite concerns over water usage and possible chemical pollution of ground water sources as California farmers are forced to leave unprecedented expanses of fields fallow in one of the worst droughts in California history. Concerns also include the possibility of earthquakes triggered by the fracking process which injects water, sand and various chemicals under high pressure into the ground to break the rock to release oil and gas for extraction though a well. The 800-mile-long San Andreas Fault runs north and south on the western side of the Monterey Formation in the Central Valley and is thought to be the most dangerous fault in the nation. Proponents of the fracking boom saying that the expansion of petroleum extraction is good for the economy and security by developing more domestic energy sources and increasing gas and oil exports. (David McNew / Getty Images / April 3, 2014)

Having recently made legal claims to historical gas and mineral rights under vast tracts of British land, the Church of England has taken a position against those who oppose hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the process of breaking up rock formations underground in order to extract natural gas.

A spokesman for the church says the issue is an economic one and compares opponents of the process to anti-vaccine activists, claiming that the poor “suffer most when resources are scarce.”

In contrast, Pope Francis, who chose the papal name of the patron saint of animals and the ecology, appeared in public after meeting with Argentine environmentalists and held up two T-shirts signifying opposition to the procedure, one of which linked fracking to the issue of water pollution and its effect on the poor.

Q: Is fracking an ecological concern connected to poverty? What position should churches take, if any, on environmental issues like fracking?

Psalm 24 opens with these words: “The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.” So yes, churches should be concerned about the environment, and especially in a situation such as this one. I believe fracking can be connected to poverty — maybe not in every single situation, but certainly here.

It seems to me that the Church of England is letting dollar signs (OK, pound signs!) cloud its vision of just what is at stake with fracking. The Church owns some property and maybe is forgetting that a church's first mission is to people, and after people, to the good care of God's green Earth.

As I understand fracking, it's a terrible process! Water is forced into the ground to break up rocks, and the water that's left is contaminated, never mind the sludge that the water produces. Would church officials like living next door to a refinery or a mine? No, because the smells would be awful and maybe even toxic. The same goes for living next to a fracking operation. In my opinion, the church should say to hell with the whole fracking situation!

The Rev. Skip Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church
La Cañada Flintridge


God created the Earth and all life on it. He gave mankind authority to rule over all as stewards (or caretakers) but not as absolute owners. God’s commission was “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.” (Genesis 1:28). Our mandate from God is to rule and use natural resources in a manner which multiplies mankind and establishes our long-term fruitfulness. I find two basic biblical principles that regulate our use of resources, both of which are applicable to the issue of fracking.

Caring for the environment and our natural resources is important. They belong to God. He lets us use them for our good. We must hand them down to future generations. To destroy the natural resources and processes upon which life depends is selfish, short-sighted and self-destructive.

Still, caring for people is more important than caring for the environment or natural resources. Given the choice of saving people or saving whales, we must always choose saving people. Only mankind is made in God’s image. God commanded the sacrifice of animals for man’s sake, not the other way around.

There are enough available resources to feed everybody on the Earth. The real problem is accessibility, those who have opening up to the needs of those who don’t. Ultimately the answer is compassion, not fracking.

Pastor Jon Barta
Valley Baptist Church


Isaac Newton’s third law of motion argues that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Newton theorized that even when we pressed the earth as we walked, the earth pressed back holding us up. We certainly know that as we lovingly tend the earth it yields its wonderful bounty of sustenance, flowers, food and even plants that complete what we need to breathe.

We know that the children of the earth, human and otherwise, when loved and treated with respect on this beloved planet, generally respond by becoming the best that they can be, loving and respectful themselves.

The Bible and other canonic texts report stories of flood, drought, earthquake and fire, as a result of human cruelty upon the Earth.

The Earth interacts intimately with all Earth’s creatures. How can any human reasonably think that systemic disregard of the Earths’ ecological balance will result in anything but disaster for the already struggling planet, as well as its inhabitants? The position that the church should take is that not only is fracking morally wrong, fracking is global suicide.

The Rev. Dr. William Thomas Jr.
Little White Chapel