In an effort to educate the community about how oil drilling practices, particularly fracking, impact climate and the local environment, a number of organizations have been holding a series of events including a March for Real Climate Leadership, Saturday in Oakland.

CoWatching Oil LA was among the local organizations invited to participate in the march. What drew the group’s involvement, the battles the organization had encountered with an oil field wedged between a low-income housing unit, an HIV/AIDS clinic and a senior citizen complex located across the street on Adams Boulevard near Western Avenue, says group founder DonnaAnn Ward.

Ward has become a force for change and social activism in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Historic West Adams. In founding CoWatching Oil LA, Ward created a mechanism by which the natural resource developer, Freeport-McMoRan was forced to acknowledge the concerns, desires and parameters city and neighborhood council members, as well as residents have.

“When you have a thousand uncovered oil wells in an urban area, they are all leaking methane gas . . . Methane is a carcinogen,” Ward said, adding that the scarcity of oil and gas inspectors in cities like Los Angeles means that citizens are left vulnerable to the self-monitoring practices and expertise of oil companies.

Ward has seen with her own eyes toxic clouds released by the residential-based oil fields that drift over neighborhoods unmonitored.

Ward points to the impact of oil drilling practices in place like Gardena where the drinking water comes out of pipes black, as well as her organization’s efforts to entice the Jet Propulsion Lab to monitor the impact of the methane gas clouds on the residents living next to the Murphy oil fields on Adams Boulevard.

She said her group is not trying to stop oil production, but instead wants to get more people to understand the risk involved and to see the connection between oil and climate and environmental change.

CoWatching Oil LA also advocates for integrity and accountability in oil leadership.