Bay Area culinary professionals join effort to stop fracking in California 

click to enlarge A protestor holds a sign during a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. - JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES
  • Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • A protestor holds a sign during a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

Some of the top culinary minds in San Francisco and the Bay Area have joined a statewide campaign against fracking in the name of protecting California's food and wine.

On Wednesday, chefs Alice Waters and Jerome Waag of the famed Berkeley haunt Chez Panisse kicked off a petition drive to urge food professionals to join them in opposing hydraulic fracturing, citing its negative impact on agriculture. The effort is in collaboration with Food & Water Watch, which helped start the group Californians Against Fracking.

An online petition also contains a letter asking Gov. Jerry Brown to put a moratorium on fracking.

Food & Water Watch pointed out that agriculture is the top economic engine in California, which is the nation's largest farm state. In 2011, 81,500 farms produced $43.5 billion in profits in 2011.

In Kern County, according to the organization, groundwater contamination from a fracking operation cost a nearby farmer millions of dollars in lost almond and pistachio crops.

Last week, Brown signed into law a bill requiring oil companies to obtain permits for fracking as well as acidizing, the use of hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals to dissolve shale rock. The law will require notification of neighbors and public disclosure of the chemicals used, along with groundwater and air-quality monitoring and an independent scientific study.

The hotly contested bill drew strong opposition from many environmentalists, who said it did not go far enough and complained that a proposed moratorium was taken out, along with some tougher regulations.

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is the practice of injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to crack rock formations and free oil and natural gas. The technology makes it possible for oil companies to unlock California's vast Monterey Shale deposit, estimated to hold 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

But environmentalists across the nation have decried the practice, saying that the chemicals used in the process pollute underground water supplies and cause other damage. New York has instituted a moratorium on fracking, and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law in June a strict set of regulations.

In his signing statement, Brown, who favors some level of fracking in the Monterey Shale, said he believed more changes would be necessary even as the law goes into effect Jan. 1.

— Staff, wire report

Foes of hydraulic fracturing

These San Francisco culinary professionals have signed a petition seeking a moratorium on fracking:

• Tom Adamian: Bar Jules

• Elizabeth DePalmer, Ryan Anderson: State Bird Provisions

• Vanessa Barrington: author, "DIY Delicious & Heirloom Beans"

• Gayle Pirie and John Clark: Foreign Cinema

• Chris Cosentino: Incanto, Boccalone

• Brett Emerson: Contigo

• Joyce Goldstein: chef, author, "Inside the California Food Revolution"

Bruce Hill: Bix, Fog City, Picco, Zero Zero

• Laurence Jossel: Nopa

• Ravi Kapur: Liholiho Yacht Club

• Mourad Lahlou: Aziza

• Dennis Lee: Namu Gaji

• Sam Mogannam: Bi-Rite Market

• Anthony Myint: Mission Street Food

• Iso Rabins: Forage SF

• Amaryll Schwertner: Boulette's Larder, Bouli Bar

• Maxine Siu: Plow

Annie Somerville: Greens

• Heidi Swanson: chef, author, "101 Cookbooks"

Staffan Terje: Perbacco

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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