fracking | Food & Water Watch - Part 12
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Blog Posts: Fracking

October 16th, 2013

The Global Frackdown: Building Bridges

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

The Time is Now

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…

Fracking with our Largest Source of Fresh Water

By Anne Zukowski

Ban Fracking!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

The Struggle Against Fracking: The View from Spain

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

How To Host A Global Frackdown Event In Your Community

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.


  1. Don’t try to plan the event by yourself. Recruit a friend to help you. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Visit our website for materials and talking points.
  4. 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.

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 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.
  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 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

New Mexico Is Joining The Global Frackdown, Are You?

By Eleanor Bravo


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

From Fracking to CAFOs, Methane Just Got a Lot Dirtier

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…

September 27th, 2013

Numbers Don’t Lie: New Food & Water Watch Report Reveals the Social Costs of Fracking

By Katherine Cirullo

social costs of fracking cover

Click to read the report.

Over the past several years, the oil and gas industry has muscled its way into rural America under the promise of providing jobs, boosting the economy and moving the nation into energy independence. The industry has pressured families and farmers into offering up their land in exchange for financial compensation. But, as we now know, this is a troubling trade. The oil and gas industry’s empty promises have left many communities in the dust with a slew of environmental, health and social consequences to deal with as a result of shale gas development. And, these consequences are sometimes irreparable. Attend a town hall meeting in rural Pennsylvania and you will hear the cry of mothers who fear for the safety of their children, or nurses distraught by what they are seeing in the clinic. It is time our nation’s leaders recognize the full extent of the damage that oil and gas development does.

Food & Water Watch conducted an empirical study of communities located in the epicenter of the natural gas boom – the Marcellus Shale – to measure the social effects of fracking. The Social Costs of Fracking: A Pennsylvania Case Study, compares and analyzes ten years of public data from rural Pennsylvania, beginning in the year 2000 when shale gas development was non-existent, and ending in 2010 when thousands of well pads and rigs spattered the landscape. Read the full article…

September 23rd, 2013

For Democrats Nationwide, Pennsylvania Offers a Lens on the Widening Rift Over Fracking

Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

By Wenonah Hauter

The Democratic Party has a few problems. Recently, President Obama has been forced to confront growing discord within his own party over a number of issues, from foreign policy to economics and the nomination of a new Federal Reserve chair. But another fissure between the Obama Administration and rank-and-file Democrats across the country, one that’s been slowly developing for years, has suddenly cracked wide open. It threatens to split the party in two, just as it quite literally splits the bedrock beneath our feet. It is the extreme gas drilling and extraction process know as fracking.

In large, solidly Blue states like California and New York, where Democrats with national responsibilities (or national aspirations) consistently look for inspiration and cash, local grassroots movements against fracking have evolved and expanded into mainstream statewide forces. But perhaps more notably, resistance to fracking among Democrats has also recently flourished in states less reliably liberal, less environmentally inclined, and situated smack in the middle of oil and gas country. States like Pennsylvania. Read the full article…

September 19th, 2013

Fracking a Flood Plain: How Fracking Can Make a Natural Disaster So Much Worse

By Katherine Cirullo

Fracking rig and wastewater pit

As a former resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, my heart aches for all of those affected by massive flooding that has occurred over the past several days throughout the Colorado Front Range. Friends have updated me with photographs of their submerged backyards and homes, bike paths turned into a roaring rivers and powerful rapids consuming what used to be the quiet “Boulder Creek.” It saddens me that Colorado is dealing with yet another natural disaster  – the state has been plagued by raging wildfires all summer. But, I am also troubled by something that has been substantially under-reported: possible widespread contamination from thousands of flooded oil and gas facilities. Might this be a precedent for more fracking disasters to come?

Weld County, one of several in Colorado inundated by the flood, is also one of the most heavily-fracked counties in Colorado. Photographs show oil and gas tanks toppled over by the surge, submerged well pads and footage of oil slicks floating on the surface of the floodwaters. Fracking Colorado’s flood plains puts the health and safety of local communities, and those downstream, in obvious danger.

At least one oil and gas pipeline and an unknown amount of storage tanks in the flooded area have busted and are leaking toxic, cancer-causing materials into the floodwaters. Furthermore, oil and gas facilitates often use open-air pits to store fracking wastewater laden with toxic chemicals. Hugh MacMillan, Senior Researcher at Food & Water Watch explains that when these pits fill with water, which they have, there is nothing lining the surface to prevent the fracking wastewater from spilling out of the pit and into the floodwaters, eventually reaching rivers and streams. Floodwaters containing toxic fracking chemicals such as benzene and toluene might contaminate the drinking water supply.

In addition, water contamination in the area will also affect wildlife and a vast amount of agricultural land. Weld County is also the largest agricultural county in Colorado. Leakage from oil and gas storage tanks, pits and pipelines is likely to affect crops and livestock. Small and medium sized farmers in the area have suffered consequences of extreme drought all summer while big agribusiness has been able to secure (i.e. buy) their water rights. Now, all ag producers must deal with a flood made worse by fracking.

Colorado has seen two ends of extreme weather in just a four-month time span. Earlier this summer it was severe drought and wildfires, and now, torrential flooding. Brad Udall, director of the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Getche’s Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment said the floods are likely a result of drought-hardened soil unable to absorb heavy rain, sparse vegetation due to wildfires and a warming climate that has produced unusually strong rain clouds. “As the climate warms further, the hydrologic cycle is going to get more intense,” he said.

Not only does the fracking process usurp one of the world’s most precious resources by using millions of gallons of fresh water per frack, but the process is not clean – its emissions exacerbate climate change. Contrary to what industry-sponsored research may claim, fracking emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide. The industry is a culprit in the climate change crisis that is devastating Colorado and communities abroad. Read the full article…

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