November 8th, 2013
By Katherine Cirullo
George Washington National Forest in Virginia
Earlier this year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – a federal agency congressionally mandated to act as a steward of public lands and Native American heritage sites ‑ proposed a set of regulations for fracking on public lands. In an effort to uphold historic principals of our democracy, they held a public comment period about those proposed rules. The public took that comment period by storm and made its voices heard loud and clear, showing unprecedented opposition to the expansion of fracking taking place on, and near, public lands. By the end of the comment period this past August, Americans Against Fracking, Food & Water Watch, 350.org and other groups together collected over one million public comments and signatures calling on President Obama and the Bureau of Land Management to do their job by protecting public lands from fracking. The majority (650,000) of those comments called for an outright ban on the practice, as regulations are not enough to prevent the ecological degradation, water and air contamination and public safety hazards that ensue from fracking.
The campaign was heartfelt and far-reaching. “These lands are our lands” was expressed enthusiastically from coast to coast.
Recently, House Republicans introduced a bill that undercuts these sentiments, not to mention the stewardship responsibilities of the federal government with regards to oil and gas development on federal lands. H.R. 2728, “Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act” is a vaguely worded, industry backed bill that would put states in charge of managing fracking on federal lands, overruling any federal oversight. Something here doesn’t seem right. Read the full article…
October 17th, 2013
By Mark Schlosberg
Activists around the globe are watching events unfold in New Brunswick, Canada today where a peaceful blockade led by the Elsipogtog First Nation, at the facility of SWN Resources Canada – a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Southwestern Energy – turned into a standoff with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP told Canadian media that protesters are being arrested for firearms offences, threats, intimidation, mischief and violating the court-ordered injunction. What is less visible in the media reports but what we’re hearing from activists on social media: that the peaceful blockade was met by overwhelming use of force by police who had canine units and reportedly used pepper spray and rubber bullets.
We have still just heard bits and pieces of information and at this point it is still unclear exactly how this situation escalated today. However, given the large police presence, including snipers in camouflage, and a reported aggressive posture towards this action, it is sadly not surprising that it has gone the way it has. There are too many reports of peaceful protests escalating following police use of excessive force. We stand with other movement leaders and organizations like Josh Fox and Maude Barlow of Council of Canadians in solidarity with peaceful Canadian activists standing to protect their lands and water from fracking. Still, in the end, violence – whatever the cause – cannot be part of a solution and we second Josh Fox’s sentiments shared on Twitter in “Urging restraint against aggression. No matter what the police do we cannot respond with violence.”
Read the full article…
By Ineke Scholte
Activist Ineke Scholte, Ireland
In my home country of Ireland, known for its forty shades of green, a shadow is looming—reducing the vibrant greens to dull greys. As we seek to feed our rising hunger for energy, we risk watching familiar fields and pastures transform into lifeless, industrial gas pads.
Since “The Quiet Man” was shot in colour in Ireland in 1952, tourists have flocked to our country to marvel at its greenness. Bed and breakfasts opened all over the island to give these visitors a rich cultural experience and thousands of welcomes, feeding them local food from grassy pastures.
But Ireland will change beyond recognition if we do not free it from the shadow that is now being cast by the oil and gas industry. Ireland’s green pastures are being compromised. It’s up to us to decide whether we will allow ourselves to be talked into fracking through the false promises of new jobs and a quick buck to alleviate our budget deficit.
Ireland has been lured into a property boom that is already turning much of the landscape to grey, leaving us financially devastated and vulnerable. The new lure of fracking will turn even more green into grey and will, like the property boom, eventually fade away as the gas reserves prove too limited to feed our endless greed for energy. It’s hard to imagine what Ireland will look like after the gas boom, but one lesson we have already learned: booms go bust and leave devastation. Read the full article…
October 16th, 2013
By Matt Smith
Growing up in Bergen County, New Jersey, a short drive from the hustle of New York City, the Ramapo County Park was a godsend for me. An oasis amongst a vast desert of asphalt laden suburbia, it was in the park where I spent much of my childhood climbing mountain trails, fishing for river trout, and falling head over heels in love with the natural world around me. It’s a place that continues to ground me as an adult, offering consistency and clarity in an often chaotic world.
In 2011 when I first caught wind of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline company’s plan to tear through the park with a new interstate gas pipeline, I was shocked. I remember when the gas company representatives told a crowd of almost 100 local residents that the pipeline would be drilled directly underneath the Monksville Reservoir ‑ the drinking water source for millions of New Jersey families. My shock turned to anger when they told us the pipeline would tear right through the sacred lands of the indigenous Ramapough Lenape tribe, a community still living with the toxic legacy created by decades of illegal waste dumping by the Ford Motor Company.
It marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life when I learned that this pipeline is intended to expand the capacity for fracking in northeastern Pennsylvania, where communities like Dimock have already been plagued with contaminated drinking water from fracking. Read the full article…
October 15th, 2013
By Hollis Berendt
We moved to Greeley, Colorado in 1978. We thought we’d stay a few years and move back to Ohio where our parents lived, but we fell in love with the clean air, wide streets, dry climate and proximity to the mountains we loved to hike. Greeley was a wonderful place to raise children, so we stayed. We didn’t have to worry about the air our children breathed or the water they drank. But it is a different place now. Our most basic needs are being fouled as Weld County is the most fracked county in the state. Our city of Greeley could have over 500 wells in the near future if policies don’t change. These wells are currently planned, or are already within close proximity to schools, parks, The Poudre River Trail and homes. In the 1990’s Greeley tried to fight oil and gas development. Unfortunately, in the case of Voss vs. Lundvall, Greeley lost and gave up trying to defend its citizens from the perils of oil and gas development.
Super storms, fires, drought and agricultural disasters are occurring all over the world, and we have recently seen the dramatic effects of climate change right here in Weld County. On Friday, September 13, northern Colorado suffered a “1000-year flood”. Homes were washed away, rivers changed course ‑ perhaps permanently ‑ oil and gas tanks were toppled and subsequently dispensed their toxic soup into the waters. People lost all of their dear possessions and others lost loved ones. People with homes were unable to heat them, and some could not drink the water or flush their toilet. Others were without power. Read the full article…
By Anne Zukowski
I’m from Michigan. I’m deeply connected with 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water supply that surrounds my state, and consider myself a steward of this essential resource.
My husband and I recently vacationed in Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota. We hiked through fantastically beautiful and rugged rock formations, saw herds of buffalo and antelope and watched soaring golden eagles.
We also saw first-hand how large-scale fracking devastates natural spaces, turning them into heavy industrial sites. We saw fracking wells and facilities everywhere with barracks-like housing and trailer parks thrown up around them to accommodate out-of-state workers. Unending lines of tanker trucks carrying everything from heavy equipment to toxic fracking chemicals and waste whiz through small towns and down narrow two-lane roads. Noise and diesel fumes fill the air.
Fracking has come to Michigan and multinational corporations such as Encana, Inc. have found a bonanza here. Most of the fracking taking place in Michigan is occurring on public lands. Twice a year the state government leases our state mineral rights to drillers for rock-bottom prices, averaging about $18 an acre. Our Department of Environmental Quality allows them to take as much water as they want for free. As an added bonus for them (since most of the public lands are forested) fracking is out-of-sight to most people. The resulting destruction of natural resources however, has proven devastating. Read the full article…
October 11th, 2013
By Samuel Martín-Sosa Rodríguez
It’s impressive to see how resistance to fracking has raced around the world like a spark travelling along a gunpowder trail. To me, this powerful struggle is in certain ways reminiscent of the global anti-nuclear movement of the 1970’s (in many ways, the forbearer of the modern-day ecological movement.) The sheer number of citizen groups, alliances and critical voices that have arisen to speak out against the practice of fracking continues to multiply. It is a struggle spearheaded by people, rather than organizations, many of whom have no background in organized activism, but who have been able to envision what is at stake – and have taken their opposition beyond NIMBYist objections, understanding that a change in our energy system is in order.
Read the full article…
October 10th, 2013
By Katherine Cirullo
From last year’s Global Frackdown.
Thousands of people across five continents took part in last year’s Global Frackdown and this year’s is shaping up to be an even more impressive show of solidarity. On October 19, individuals and activist groups in communities around the world will gather to raise their voices and tell their local elected officials that they want a future lit by clean, renewable energy, not dangerous fossil fuels. So far, over 200 events are planned in 19 countries. The movement to ban fracking has grown strong and wide over the past year, but it needs your help to keep the momentum going!
So, you want to get involved in this monumental, world-wide day of action to protect your community from the harmful effects fracking has on air, water, health and public safety? 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.
- Don’t try to plan the event by yourself. Recruit a friend to help you.
- Register your event on our website so nearby 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.
- Visit our website for materials and talking points.
- Target your local elected officials. Their job is to listen to constituents. If you need help on who to target, contact us! E-mail kkiefer(at)fwwatch(dot)org.
What does a Global Frackdown action entail? That’s ultimately up to you, but we have some ideas to get you started.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 kkiefer(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.
- 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.
- Don’t forget to spread the world (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 kkiefer(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 the movement heard.
Since last year’s Global Frackdown, the movement has passed more than 336 measures against fracking in communities across the United States. 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. The second annual Global Frackdown is less than two weeks away. Join us!
October 9th, 2013
By Eleanor Bravo
PECOS NATIONAL PARK, COURTESY OF U.S. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Northeastern New Mexico is a peaceful, pristine countryside that can take your breath away. It is sometimes described as “the place where the plains meet the mountains,” where open pastures run up against the eastern slopes of the majestic Sangre de Cristos. For outdoor lovers, it’s paradise. For the people who live there, it is a sacred place rich in culture, history and tradition. Many of the region’s farmers and ranchers have tended and lived off the land for several generations. It is a vital resource for them, as is the water that allows their traditional livelihoods to flourish.
Unfortunately, the way of life for many in this region is now threatened. Northeastern New Mexico is one of many rural areas across the world that is being eyed for fracking. Our pristine land sits above shale deposits where natural gas is trapped. The region is an attractive target for well drillers, but oil and gas development greatly threatens local communities. Promising jobs and big profits for locals, the oil and gas industry is intent on destroying this natural and majestic landscape with fracking. The process is likely to ruin the region’s air, water, public health and way of life. To protect what they depend on, the people of Northeastern New Mexico and agricultural communities across the world are fighting back. Read the full article…
October 2nd, 2013
By Hugh MacMillan
It’s day two of the notorious federal government shut down, and some EPA employees may be wondering how to spend their free time. We have an idea for them—they can bone up on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Last week, the committee released the first of several multi-thousand-page reports summarizing all of climate science in one enormous body of work. Surprise! Climate change remains an enormous problem, and natural gas remains a false solution.
We’ve known for a while that oil and gas development and industrialized food production release methane into the atmosphere. But this report states, unequivocally, that methane is significantly worse for the climate than stated in the IPCC’s 2005 report—36 percent worse, to be exact.
Read the full article…