November 22nd, 2013
By Briana Kerensky
Image courtesy United Nations Development Group
Over the past few years, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been presented by the oil and gas industry as a silver bullet to our economic woes. According to the industry, the mining of unconventional shale gas and oil deposits is supposed to flood our communities with money, jobs, and other development opportunities. But the truth is this: fracking comes with a price. This dangerous, harmful practice puts our health, our environment, and the stability of our communities on the line.
The UN is currently engaged in a multi-year process to develop Sustainable Development Goals that will chart a common global path towards merging economic development with environmental stability. How can people around the world the chance to succeed and improve their lives, without furthering damage to our planet and communities? Some states are moving ahead quickly with fracking in the hopes of achieving energy independence from imported oil and gas. Meanwhile, other states, such as France, have banned the practice, believing that it cannot be done without resulting in the risks mentioned above.
This Monday, the UN will address the role of fracking in the organization’s Sustainable Development Goals in an event called “Sustainable Energy for All: Can a Just Solution Include Hydraulic Fracturing?” Speakers at the event include Ambassador Stephan Tafrov, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the UN; François Gave, Permanent Mission of France to the UN; and Food & Water Watch’s own Senior Organizer for New York, Eric Weltman.
It is the goal of Food & Water Watch to work with the UN and help people understand that fracking is a short-term solution to energy consumption, with long lasting, disastrous results. Sustainable energy is a goal that we can achieve. But fracking is hardly the answer.
By Kate Fried
Lawmakers worked overtime this week to justify the passage of a trio of bills in the House of Representatives that if passed, would increase fracking. With public opinion on fracking shifting from “huh?” to “meh,” Congress remains clumsily out of step with the people whose interests they were elected to serve.
Of course, this isn’t so surprising, given the latest set of revelations that the oil and gas industry is bankrolling many members of Congress. According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), oil and gas industry contributions to Congress rose 180 percent, to $12 million, in the last election cycle.
While the bills passed in the House this week weren’t introduced by any of the top ten recipients of oil and gas industry contributions, it’s not hard to imagine that that these sponsors may have recently had visions of checks from Chevron or Chesapeake Energy dancing in their heads.
Read the full article…
November 19th, 2013
By Briana Kerensky
Academy Award-winning actress Marisa Tomei asks, “What the Frack?”
Last month, thousands of people around the world united for a global day of action against fracking: the Global Frackdown. We asked government officials to consider the harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing on our environment, our communities and health, and ban the practice before it’s too late.
Today, more voices are joining our cause and asking an important question: What the Frack?
Celebrities and environmental advocates – including Marisa Tomei, “Trophy Wife” star Malin Akerman, Lance Bass, “Modern Family’s” Julie Bowen, “Nashville” actress Hayden Panettiere, “Glee” cast member Darren Criss, and more, are appearing in a series of online videos in order to educate Americans about the dangers that fracking poses to the nation. The videos were created as a joint-effort between Food & Water Watch, Americans Against Fracking, the Environmental Media Association, and Environment America. Read the full article…
November 15th, 2013
By Katherine Cirullo
On October 30, 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard proposed a policy that would allow oil and gas companies to ship fracking wastewater down our nation’s waterways by barge. The amount of waste that fracking produces is a bottleneck for oil and gas development, but this proposal would help remedy that problem on the industry’s behalf. The public was given only thirty days to comment. If we want to protect our natural resources and our health now and for future generations, we must voice our concerns today.
The Coast Guard’s proposed policy contradicts their own mission to “develop and enforce regulations to avert the introduction of invasive species into the maritime environment, stop unauthorized ocean dumping, and prevent oil and chemical spills.” In fact, it’s another instance of the Obama Administration’s failure to protect our nation’s precious resources by bolstering fossil fuel development instead.
If passed, major waterways, including the nation’s largest river, the Mississippi River, and its largest tributary the Ohio River, could face widespread contamination from hard to clean spills. Read the full article…
November 13th, 2013
By Tim Schwab
Last week, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) was once again exposed as an industry front group – taking industry money and advocating pro-industry positions while claiming to be an independent, science-based organization. The magazine Mother Jones published a leaked document showing the enormous extent to which the organization is bankrolled by corporations and industry groups, confirming what many environmental and health advocates had always believed about the four-decades-old organization.
The Council, which claims to be a scientific organization, takes tens of thousands of dollars from big oil and gas interests like Chevron and the American Petroleum Institute and publicly advocates for fracking. It also stridently speaks in favor of genetically engineered (GE) crops, which may have something to do with the money Syngenta and Bayer gives it. Read the full article…
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…