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Blog Posts: Fracking

October 15th, 2014

The Global Frackdown 2014: A Recap

GlobalFrackdown2014Collage

By Mark Schlosberg

Last Saturday, thousands of people across the world gathered to participate in the Global Frackdown: an international day of action to demand a ban on fracking and other dangerous forms of oil extraction. By almost any measure, this year’s collection of rallies, performances, public speaking events and educational opportunities was the biggest and most powerful day of action yet — a reflection of the growing movement against fracking, fueled by mounting scientific evidence that this dangerous practice not only poses a significant threat to water, air, health and our communities, but also threatens the climate on which we all depend.

The first Global Frackdown in 2012 featured 200 international events. Last year, we noted over 250 and in 2014 we saw many more — well over 300 — and actually many more including all of the actions in Europe that were also connected with a day of action against three trade agreements. These agreements could make it much more difficult for European communities to prevent fracking. Last year, the Global Frackdown had events in 30 different countries; this year our day of action spread out to 34. Last year, in the U.S. there were actions in 30 states; this year there were actions in 33 states and the District of Columbia. And, this comes on the heals of the People’s Climate March, which was attended by 400,000 and was noted, in part, for the strength of the anti-fracking contingent.

Actions ran the gamut from large rallies to smaller leafleting, education, and planning events. In France, there were several actions across the country and an action in Geneva drew 2000 people from France and Switzerland.

In Germany, there were 20 events, including an event in Ueberlingen with at least 600 people. In London, hundreds took to the streets to protest HSBC Bank, which they dubbed the “frackers’ local bank.” An event in Wales attracted 400 demonstrators. Romania, where Chevron is currently drilling for shale gas, held more than ten events. And, other significant events were held across Europe including in Ireland, Spain, Bulgaria, and many more.

In Australia, there were several actions across the country and in Asia events were held in the Philippines, India and Bangladesh. In Africa there were events in Morocco, South Africa, and Cameroon and in South America, there were (or are still planned) actions in Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru and Argentina.

In North America there were events held across Mexico, the United States and Canada. Our allies at Council of Canadians released a poll just prior to the Global Frackdown showing that 70 percent of Canadians support a moratorium on fracking.

In Long Island, New York, 200 activists and several awesome surfers braved the rain to protest against fracking and a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility — it was one of 20 actions held across the state. In Illinois, residents from Chicago to the Shawnee National Forest took action to keep fracking out of their beautiful state. In Colorado, people toured fracking sites. And in North Carolina, groups joined together for a Frackdown “Getdown;” and three days later they delivered Governor McCrory 50,000 petitions in support of keeping North Carolina frack free. In California, there were over a dozen actions across the state largely focused on movement building as the campaign to pressure Governor Brown to place a moratorium on fracking in California continues to ramp up. And there were many many more…

While these events happened in hundreds of communities across the world, they were all united by a common goal of stopping the extreme energy extraction methods that are jeopardizing our future. Together, communities around the globe called for an end to fracking and a swift transition to a 100 percent renewable energy future.

That message was brought home by a coalition letter signed on by over 250 groups from 39 countries and delivered to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, calling on him to not include fracking as part of the United Nations’ Sustainability for All Initiative.

The three years of the Global Frackown have provided an important connection between the collective struggles of communities across the world, and have elevated the call for a ban on fracking into the mainstream. The oil and gas industry has virtually unlimited financial resources, but we know that when we organize, make strong demands that are backed by science, and work together, we can win.

So, lets celebrate the Global Frackdown, draw (clean) energy from it, and continue together to fight for the renewable energy future that we so desperately need.

View our full photo album here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152520160993031.1073741841.50982313030&type=1

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October 10th, 2014

Susan G. Komen, Fracking and “Pink Sh*t”

By Wenonah Hauter

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What the frack? A pink fracking drill bit.

This week Susan G. Komen announced a partnership with Baker Hughes, a massive oilfield service company that operates in 90 countries. Throughout the month of October, Baker Hughes will “do their bit” in the fight against breast cancer by selling pink fracking drill bits.

While I fully support efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer, as a long-time consumer and environmental activist, I simply can’t abide such blatant pinkwashing, particularly when it willfully ignores the very obvious connection between fracking and breast cancer.

Our newest report, “The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking,” reveals that the practice of fracking utilizes over 100 dangerous chemicals known to cause life-threatening illnesses. Exposure to at least one of these chemicals, benzene, has been confirmed to increase people’s risk of developing cancer. And fracking waste can’t just be thrown into a dump or landfill with the rest of the trash. It’s highly toxic, often radioactive, and can easily seep into the atmosphere and water. In a handful of incidents, oil and gas companies have injected fracking fluids or wastes very close to, if not directly into, underground sources of drinking water.

If fracking is so dangerous, and if the corporations that do it are knowingly releasing dangerous chemicals into the environment, why on earth would the world’s largest breast cancer nonprofit think it’s a good idea to go into a partnership with them? This completely goes against the organization’s mission to “end breast cancer forever.”

To be honest, Susan G. Komen’s relationship with Baker Hughes is the cherry on top of a chemical-laden, toxic sundae. From pink water bottles containing BPAs to pink buckets of KFC containing carcinogenic ingredients, Susan G. Komen has made it clear they are prioritizing their pink bottom line over people they’re supposed to be helping.

Ultimately, the national nonprofit Breast Cancer Action summed this debacle up best in a recent press release:

“Breast Cancer Action today thanked Susan G. Komen and Baker Hughes for partnering on the most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t they’ve seen all year – 1,000 shiny pink drill bits. BCAction hailed this partnership as the most egregious example of “pinkwashing” they’ve ever seen and heartily lauded Komen and Baker Hughes for doing their bit to increase women’s risk of breast cancer with their toxic fracking chemicals.”

We concur.

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For Europe, a Game of Fracking RISK?

By Geert Decock

Join the Global Frackdown

Don’t play geopolitics with shale gas!

Fracking is full of risks; It threatens water, air, the climate, public health, livelihoods and more.

That much we know.

But what if fracking were RISK? As in RISK, the board game, where the goal is to occupy as many territories as possible (keep in mind that the oil and gas industry’s goal is to frack as many territories as possible). The metaphor is not as farfetched as you may think.

This past Tuesday, ahead of the Global Frackdown, Food & Water Watch’s international day of action to ban fracking, we gathered outside the European Parliament in Brussels to play our own version of RISK — “Fracking RISK” — to bring lawmakers and community members up to speed on the many dangers of fracking.

Right now in the UK, European states are offering large swaths of territory to the oil and gas industry for shale gas exploration. Fearful of the many known risks of fracking, local communities are pushing back against this looming threat. Some states have even enacted local, regional and national bans on fracking. Much like the game RISK, the oil and gas industry is trying to control as much territory as it can.

Because of the crisis in Ukraine and the growing dependency of European Union member states, especially in Eastern Europe, on natural gas imports from Russia, the issue of drilling for shale gas has really shot to the top of the EU’s political agenda. Energy security and shale gas are now an integral part of geopolitical discussions in the European Union and in neighboring nations.

So, how does “Fracking RISK” work?

First, you will need to create or find a “board” with all the countries of Europe.

The rules:

Players split into two camps: On one side is Big Oil and Gas; its goal is to spread as many drilling rigs around Europe. On the other side is Local Communities; this team’s goal is to defend its lands against Big Oil and Gas by spreading fracking bans. The teams take turns throwing two dice.

If, for example, Big Oil & Gas throws a total of two or 12, they get to put in five new rigs. Throwing a total of three or 11 earns you four rigs, and so on. The rules of the dice are based on basic probabilities. The same rules apply for how many fracking bans Local Communities gets to put on the map.

There are also cards that each player receives after their turn, which they can cash in on the next turn.
For Big Oil & Gas, one card might read: “NATO Secretary General claims anti-fracking groups are KGB spies: Big Oil & Gas gets to put up five extra rigs.” Another could read: “Thanks to a ruling of a corporate tribunal (the Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism currently being negotiated in the EU-US free trade agreement), Big Oil & Gas can overturn four fracking bans”.

Of course, the Local Communities team can earn these cards as well: “Public opinion demands a health impact study: Big Oil & Gas must skip a turn.” Or: “Another train with volatile shale oil blows up: Take three rigs away from Big Oil & Gas”. This one has particular relevance to a densely populated continent like Europe: “Government decides no fracking in densely populated areas: Take five rigs away from Big Oil & Gas”.

So, who won the test-round outside the Parliament on Tuesday? Unsurprisingly, Local Communities overwhelmed Big Oil & Gas by their numbers and quickly spread fracking bans all around Europe.

Check out some pictures and a video of our game. Feel free to suggest some extra rules and cards in the comments section below!

On Saturday, October 11, communities all over the world will participate in the Global Frackdown to challenge lawmakers to ban fracking. Join an event near you! www.globalfrackdown.org/events

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October 3rd, 2014

The Future Is Ours to Fight For: Ban Fracking Now

By Lilly Adams

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Lilly Adams of University of California Berkeley’s Students Against Fracking

My generation was born into a climate crisis. It was not until college that I realized I was inheriting a disaster I did not cause, but would be forced to deal with nonetheless. In tolerating, and sometimes endorsing, irresponsible, destructive practices like fracking, and in resisting sustainable change, our leaders are burdening and jeopardizing the health and safety of my generation and future ones. And while this may feel unjust, it is an opportunity for us to take up this fight and play a vital role in forging a sustainable future.

We may have inherited a climate of chaos, but we move forward in a climate of activism, change and hope. I’m joining the Global Frackdown because the ball is in our hands to fight for a livable future — for my generation and those to come.

The natural world has inspired and motivated me since I was a child. But my reasons for engaging in environmental activism, specifically in the fight against fracking, extend far beyond a personal love of nature. Stopping fracking is not just about protecting our water, air and landscapes; it is about protecting social justice. As I have learned more about fracking, I have come to realize the many ways in which it hurts our communities. Fracking-related water contamination and poor air quality threaten peoples’ health, yet fracking wells are drilled mere hundreds of feet from elementary schools. Drilling for oil and natural gas turns quiet towns into industrial extraction sites. It emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is 87 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, which exacerbates the effects of climate change. To add insult to injury, these effects are disproportionately felt by marginalized communities whose voices are silenced by oil and gas corporations that insist fracking is safe and harmful to no one. Read the full article…

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October 1st, 2014

The Movement to Ban Fracking Has Momentum

By Wenonah Hauter

Just over a week ago, I had the pleasure of participating in the People’s Climate March, along with our allies and thousands of citizens from around the world. We stood together in New York City to demand that our world’s leaders take definitive action on climate change. Of course, a big part of our mission on climate change is our fight to ban fracking, and while 2014 has seen some major milestones for our efforts, perhaps the most important of these is the evidence that our movement is growing. In order to get you inspired for the 2014 Global Frackdown, we created a video to show you some of the faces that are out there working hard around the country to ban fracking. As our video demonstrates, we are building on this momentum, and we need you to join us on October 11 to show just how strong we are.

Throughout 2014, we have witnessed citizens taking action across the nation, as well as around the globe. At Food & Water Watch, we have been keeping track of this progress as evidenced by the growing number of actions taken by communities against fracking. Last year’s Global Frackdown was a huge success and 2014 is shaping up to be our biggest Frackdown yet. It’s a good thing our movement is growing because we need to show our strength now more than ever.

The oil and gas industry has been pushing its agenda for expansion, particularly in California, Florida, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In fact, just this week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Dominion Cove Point in Maryland, one of the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in the nation, and the only one that’s located close to a community. In New York, our efforts to birddog Governor Cuomo have proven successful. The Governor himself commented on the tenacious and persistent nature of our efforts to remind him that we don’t want fracking in the Empire State. So far, mainly due to the determination of this movement, we’ve kept fracking out of New York.

We are honored and proud to stand with each and every one of our allies in this critical fight against fracking. Will you join us? You can join an already existing event or even plan to host one by visiting Globalfrackdown.org, and we encourage you to share your stories with us. Help us spread the word about this year’s Global Frackdown by sharing this video.

Where will YOU be on October 11?

September 29th, 2014

What Will it Take for the EPA to Act on Fracking?

By Emily Wurth

CraigStevensDimockWater-FBSQIt is well known that drilling and fracking contaminate water and it’s happening all across the United States. Yet President Obama and his administration, including the Environmental Protection Agency, are not only letting this happen unchecked, they’re actively promoting and expanding fracking. That’s why we’ve long been blowing the whistle and demanding answers.

Last Thursday, a Resources for the Future Policy Leadership Forum featured a conversation with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Craig Stevens, whose water is contaminated from a gas pipeline, and I attended the forum hoping that we could ask Administrator McCarthy a single question: why won’t she meet with the families affected by water contamination from drilling and fracking for oil and gas?

Read the full article…

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September 26th, 2014

Fighting for a Frack-Free Europe

By Katherine Cirullo

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Geert deCock, Food & Water Europe Policy Officer, is joining this year’s Global Frackdown to fight for a ban on fracking.

With just two weeks until the Global Frackdown, we called up our colleague Geert deCock in Brussels to get the low-down on Europe’s fight against fracking — the progress that’s been made and the work that still needs to be done. Prepare to be inspired.

Geert, to start us off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Why did you become involved in the fight against fracking?

My name is Geert deCock. I’m Belgian, and I work for Food & Water Watch in Brussels for the European program. My main focus is to campaign for a ban on fracking in Europe and to generally support the groups that oppose fracking in Europe, providing knowledge about fracking, its many harmful impacts and that ways in which we can organize to stop it.

I became involved in the fight against fracking when living in Alberta, Canada (Edmonton), quite close to the tar sands, where I was exposed to a lot of the rhetoric around oil and gas extraction and its “supposed” benefits. That’s when I became politicized about energy and climate and fossil fuels. I saw that there was such a huge gap between what the government was saying about “minimal” risks of tar sands extraction and the real experiences of nations and communities — the very real health impacts tar sands extraction has on people living in those areas and the environment. There’s such a close parallel to fracking where, again, the industry claims the benefits are huge and the risks are minimal, when really, if you talk to the people on the ground, it’s the other way around.

Food & Water Watch is calling for a ban on fracking and an aggressive transition towards renewable energy, all across the globe. Why is it important that communities around the world become involved in this fight, not just those in the U.S.?

Right now in Europe, we don’t have particularly large-scale fracking operations yet. So, it’s important to ban fracking now, before it is too late — before fracking begins and contaminates local water supplies, pollutes the air, industrializes once agrarian communities and really exacerbates global climate change. Read the full article…

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September 22nd, 2014

Keep the Pressure On: A Message From Bill McKibben

Join us at the Global Frackdown on October 11.

      FIND AN EVENT

Do you need proof that the movement for climate justice is growing? How about this: over 400,000 people attended yesterday’s People’s Climate March in New York City and thousands more attended affiliated actions across the world. The press is already calling it the largest climate march in history. It’s exciting to see so many people engaged and active around climate change, and it’s hopeful to see thousands of people calling upon our leaders to make more responsible decisions regarding our energy future.

We need to build on that tremendous energy and make strong demands of our elected representatives at the local, state, and national level. The October 11 Global Frackdown offers just that opportunity.

Last year, there were hundreds of actions across the world calling for a ban on fracking, and this year there are already over 200 partner organizations in the Global Frackdown. One of those partner organizations is 350.org, and environmental leader Bill McKibben—whose voice and leadership have been so critical to sounding the call for strong action on climate change and the People’s Climate March—filmed a short video encouraging people to build on the climate march and take action on October 11.

Watch the video, share it with your friends, and sign up to attend or hold an action on October 11.

Join the Global Frackdown.

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September 21st, 2014

Don’t Frack Montana’s National Treasure

Eleanor Guerin with hiking buddies in 1987 taking a break with Grinnell Glacier in the background.

Eleanor Guerin with hiking buddies in 1987 taking a break with Grinnell Glacier in the background.

By Eleanor Guerin

I first worked in Glacier National Park during the summer of 1985, while still in college and studying biology. I knew I wanted to work in the wild. Coming from the flat land of Louisiana, I had only traveled east of the Mississippi and the only mountains I knew were the Ouchitas and the Appalachians. So Montana was at first overwhelming. I had never seen mountains loom so large; they felt oppressive. But I soon grew to love the park and the West in general – so much so that after one more stint working in environmental education in New Hampshire, I never went East again. I returned to Glacier as a ranger and naturalist the next year.

Visitors from all over the world come to Glacier. As a National Park Service park ranger/naturalist, I was fortunate to meet and talk with countless people from across Europe and Asia, the Middle East, Australia — really every continent. Many Europeans visit Glacier to see what is known as the “American Alps.” Folks come either for a quick drive on the not-to-be-missed road through the park or to spend days hiking the backcountry. And Glacier truly is a backcountry park. Roads take one only so far; while there is much to behold along the hairpin turns and thousand-foot drops of the main road, it’s the trails that lead to unimagined wildness. In the backcountry of this park, I sensed both my smallness in, and oneness with, the land. I yielded to the wind, sun and snow, to lightning and thunderstorms. I felt redeemed by the waters and life and purity of it all.

Eleanor Guerin (second from right) poses with Glacier National Park hikers in 1987. The group had just finished a loop that brought them "23 feet, 2 inches away from a 'griz' near Old Man Lake," according to a note on the back of the photo.

Eleanor Guerin (second from right) poses with Glacier National Park hikers in 1987. The group had just finished a loop that brought them “23 feet, 2 inches away from a ‘griz’ near Old Man Lake,” according to a note on the back of the photo.

Two intertwined features of Glacier will always stay with me: wildlife and water. And they both are threatened by what’s happening near the park on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the state of Montana: fracking. I have tracked fracking issues around the country from Pennsylvania to my home state of Louisiana, to the west in Wyoming, Montana and in California where I’ve made my home for 27 years. For some living in poverty, as on the Blackfeet Reservation bordering the eastern edge of Glacier, allowing drilling and fracking may provide temporary economic relief. But it has the terrible potential to be a double-edged sword. Some argue there’s no harm. Others fight with all their heart to protect the land. With secret chemical concoctions injected deep into the earth, I gladly err on the side of protection.

Montana may not be a highly populated state, but it contains an unrivaled natural treasure worthy of government oversight and protection. BLM lands are federal lands, intended to benefit ALL the people. The potential for fracking to contaminate both ground and surface water that sustains the people of Montana through agriculture and drinking supplies, as well its wildlife, cannot be ignored. Once damaged, there’s no turning back.

I return to Montana and Glacier every couple of years. The park is an old friend; the land has held my heart ever since my first foray there. But I have watched the glaciers, for which the park is named, recede during a few short decades. I know species like the pika become more threatened by warming temperatures. And now, the very water that sustains both humans and animals could become the next casualty of economic development. We must be vigilant.

eleanorguerin.headshotEleanor Guerin is a guest blogger to Food & Water Watch. Since leaving Glacier in 1987, Eleanor has made her home in Sonoma County, California, where she makes her living as a massage therapist, health advocate and Certified Senior Advisor. She gathers data for the California Phenology Project at Pepperwood Preserve and volunteers in the Sonoma County Regional Parks system.”

September 19th, 2014

Come One, Come All: Host an Event for the Global Frackdown!

By Katherine Cirullo

frackdownEach autumn for the last several years, thousands of people across continents have participated in the Global Frackdown, a worldwide day of action to challenge the oil and gas industry and to call for a worldwide ban on fracking. This year’s Global Frackdown is shaping up to be an impressive show of solidarity. On October 11, individuals and groups in communities around the world will gather to raise their voices and tell their elected officials that they want a future lit by clean, renewable energy, not dangerous, destructive fossil fuels.

So, do you want to have a hand in this monumental global effort to protect communities from the harmful effects that fracking imposes on air, water, health and public safety? Do you want to help decrease our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and instead steer our planet towards a renewable energy future and a safe climate? Do you want to see fracking banned in your town, and in others across the globe?

Simple. Host a Global Frackdown event! We’ll give you the tools; all you need is a bit of creativity and some fire in your gut.

Global Frackdown events should be educational, and should build your local movement against fracking. They should also be fun! The more people we have as part of our movement, the more power we will have to stand up against the oil and gas industry’s global pressure to increase gas development — so let’s get to it. Here’s how you can organize a successful Global Frackdown event in your community.

Planning:

  1. First, check the map to see if there’s already an event in your area. If not, sign up to host one and we’ll get in touch with a planning toolkit and everything you need to plan a great event.
  2. Don’t go at it alone. Recruit a friend to help.
  3. Once you plan your event, add it to the map so members of your community can join. You can also get people to join your event by posting an event listing in your local newspaper, on social media or by handing out flyers.
  4. Visit our website for materials and talking points.
  5. Target your local elected officials. Their job is to listen to constituents. If you need help on who to target, contact us! E-mail katy(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

The Event:

What does a Global Frackdown action entail? That’s ultimately up to you, but we have some ideas to get you started.

  1. Collect Petitions. Set up a table at a local farmers market or school event, host a potluck at home with your friends or host a film screening (see number 3). These are all fun, simple ways to collect signatures for a ban on fracking and converse with those around you about the issue. Petition signatures are a direct way of showing local officials that your community supports the movement to ban fracking. When you have finished collecting, send them to us and we will help you deliver them to your local decision makers.
  2. Make a Human Sign. Time to get creative and be visible! What do you want to tell your local officials? Choose a public space and either spell a message with actual people or have them hold up individual letters. This is a great way to get kids involved with some poster board and markers. Decide ahead of time when and where everyone should meet. And, don’t forget to take pictures!
  3. Host a film screening. Gasland and Gasland II are compelling films about fracking that will inform your community and spark discussion after the film. To request a copy, email katy(at)fwwatch(dot)org. You can host a private screening at your home or reserve a space and invite your community. College campuses or community and arts centers are great. Tell your elected officials about it, collect petition signatures and be sure to check back with us after.
  4. Host a rally. What better way to make your concerns heard than by shouting them? Gather your community and together tell your elected officials what you are fighting for by holding a rally in a public space outside his or her office. Are you fighting for clean water? Clean air? Safe food? Safe communities? Get your friends involved by asking them to create signs and come up with a few chants. Make sure to bring petitions, take photo and video and have fun! Download our toolkit for sample chants and other materials.
  5. Don’t forget to spread the word (and the photos) on the web. Visit our social media guide for how to connect with the Global Frackdown online. Or, send your photos to katy(at)fwwatch(dot)org and we will share them. Social media is a great way for you to keep us updated on your event and to also tune in with other events around the world. Most importantly, it is a way to make our voices heard.

In recent years, communities across the United States have passed hundreds of measures against fracking. Bulgaria and France have upheld bans. The Netherlands and Czech Republic have passed moratoria. South Africa and Ireland have delayed fracking. Communities in other countries have mobilized to pass local legislation. We’re just getting started. The third Global Frackdown is just three weeks away. Join us!

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