The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) just released three new thought-provoking videos that show how oil and gas development affects residents of California. The slideshow videos illustrate some of the ways fracking and other controversial extraction methods can disrupt everyday life in rural and urban communities. Each short film gives personal insights into the issues faced by three families – from health concerns in South L.A. as the city mulls a fracking ban, to the strain on water supplies in San Benito County in the midst of a severe drought, to a family driven from their home in Kern County. Click through to see all three videos.


The NRDC has released the videos in the wake of a failed attempt to pass a Californian statewide fracking moratorium in spring, 2014. This failure left communities across the state (like much of the U.S.) more dependent than ever on efforts to take matters into their own hands through local initiatives that would ban, restrict or offer added protections against fracking. The NRDC believes the stories portrayed are likely to sound familiar to fracking communities across the country.

Related: Fracking Dries Out Texas Town’s Water Supply

As a quick synopsis of the videos, in “Fighting for Air” Nalleli Cobo lives in an apartment directly across the street from an oil well site. Since 2010 when the wells opened, Nalleli reportedly has developed heart problems, nose bleeds, headaches, stomach pain and loss of smell. The site has been closed temporarily and Nalleli’s mother is now leading local community efforts to make the closure permanent.

In “Water Goes, We Go,” Joe and Kathy Spencer run a ranch in southern San Benito County. A single oil company owns mineral rights beneath much of the ranch land in the area and can come on anyone’s property and drill whether the residents like it or not. With 15 test wells planned for their neighbor’s land, and Kathy and Joe are worried about the impacts this will have on their already scarce water supply amid a prolonged drought.

Related: Secretary of the Interior Calls for Inspection of Fracking Wells

A Home Surrendered” documents how Walt and Marilee Desatoff were driven out of their family home in Shafter when Vintage Petroleum arrived. The company transformed the rose field across the street into an industrial waste land of wells and wastewater pits, and spilled oil onto the street outside their house. Kern County is now home to about 80 percent of the state’s oil drilling and more than 95 percent of its fracking, so this is a stark reminder of how the industrial process can change residents’ way of life.

The NRDC believes that with fracking already legal and happening in California, communities can expect these stories to be repeated statewide if leaders don’t step in to protect their constituents by putting an immediate moratorium in place on the extraction process.

+Natural Resources Defense Council

Videos by Natural Resources Defense Council