Fracking | Food & Water Watch - Part 5
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Blog Posts: Fracking

January 15th, 2014

Dear Governor Brown: It’s Time to Get Your Head Out of the Clouds on Fracking

This post originally ran on IndyBay

By Brenna Norton

As I boarded my plane from Los Angeles to the Bay Area the other week, I did a double take when I walked by a guy that looked an awful lot like California Governor Jerry Brown. Turns out it was him, which is ironic since earlier that week I had been following the governor around Los Angeles berating him for his support of fracking.

He was only sitting a row ahead and I began to think about what I could say to our governor who recently brokered a bad bill, SB 4, to allow companies to frack our state at the expense of our health, our water, and our climate.

Before I made my way off of the airplane, I took the opportunity to have a short chat with our governor from an empty seat across the aisle.

I told him that I know and work with people who have been sickened and harmed by fracking operations in Los Angeles, and then Brown immediately put up a wall and went on the defensive: “that’s not true,” he told me. “Fracking can be done safely and has been happening here for 60 years.” And, “what do you want to do? Ship in all this oil from Saudi Arabia instead?”

I thought to myself, is that the best you’ve got Jerry?  He had just repeated the oil companies’ main talking points, usually rattled off by their lobbyists.

This from the governor who goes around saying climate change is the greatest challenge to mankind? Did he forget that fracking for oil is perhaps the worst thing for our climate, spewing out both methane and carbon dioxide through the extraction, transport, refining and burning of the oil?

I let the governor know that it’s well documented that fracking has become infinitely more extreme in the last 15 years, using more water and toxic chemicals then ever before, and getting special federal exemptions such as the Halliburton Loophole in 2005. The industry is eager to use fracking and other forms of extreme extraction (acidizing, cyclic steam, acid fracking) to tap the Monterey Shale, our infamous rock formation that stretches from L.A. to the Bay Area and is estimated to hold 9-13 billion barrels of recoverable oil. 

If I had more time with the governor, I would have told him that when Zodiac Exploration announced in February of 2012 that it had drilled a horizontal well more than 14,000 feet below Kings County, the company’s president stated, “this type of deep high-pressure and high-temperature operation is new to California,” essentially admitting that this isn’t your grandma’s oil drilling anymore.

I told the governor that I’ve sat with Los Angeles residents living near fracking operations who are seeing an alarming increase in very rare cancers, and have children getting sick with nose bleeds and sudden unexplained severe respiratory problems. A recent report based on new data from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, reveals that 12 dangerous chemicals that raise cancer risk, harm the heart and damage the lungs and eyes have been used in the L.A. Basin over 300 times in fracking and other unconventional oil production methods in just the first three months of reporting.

While I didn’t have time to address his second myth – that fracking for California’s oil would replace imports from Saudi Arabia – I’ll set that record straight now. Governor: you should know as well as anyone that oil extracted on U.S. soil goes into an international market. Recent articles in the Financial Times and New York Times illustrate that the U.S. is becoming a net exporter of oil and gas and that refineries in California are exporting more refined oil than ever before. And now President Obama’s energy secretary, a friend of fracking, is seeking to lift the ban on exports of crude oil.

And even if the industry fracked and extracted all the 9 to 13 billion barrels of oil from the Monterey Shale and didn’t export it to China, it would only be enough to supply our nation’s energy needs for two years.

As for Jerry’s question about what I would do instead of letting oil companies frack? Well, he left before I could answer, but in three simple words: ban fracking now. Use your executive power to prohibit fracking and other extreme forms of stimulation (hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, acid fracking, cyclic steam injection) in California and work to ensure that California remains a global leader in the burgeoning clean energy economy. We need to invest in clean, homegrown American energy that will create more jobs and end our addiction to fossil fuels. This is the only way to ensure energy independence and security.

The Governor, not wanting to continue our conversation, made his way quickly off the plane and told me to send the research proving the dangers of fracking to the general email address on his website. I will take him up on this offer, but it’s a shame that he probably won’t actually read what I send him.

But if all Californians who are concerned about the threats fracking poses to our air, water, food and neighborhoods continue to remind the governor that he works for us, not the oil and gas industry, he won’t be able to ignore us. We will keep hounding Jerry to grow some spine reminding him that he can’t preach about climate change and let oil companies frack and dump tons of methane and carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Until he does the right thing, Governor Brown will be hearing from us everywhere he goes – even 30,000 feet in the air: climate leaders don’t frack!

January 10th, 2014

Disney Rejects the Poison Apple of Fracking

By Katherine Cirullo and Kate Fried 

Recently it looked like Disney was poised to reimagine one of its beloved films in a very modern and controversial manner. Imagine a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves where, rather than trotting off to work in the coal mines, the characters in question instead sing their famous song about going to work on a fracking rig. Sounds pretty dopey, right? 

Until yesterday, Radio Disney was partnering with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association to teach kids about the science behind oil and gas production through the “Rocking in Ohio” program. While billed as “scientific education,” the prospect of this alliance had many in the anti-fracking movement feeling rather grumpy, worrying that the program was actually an attempt by industry to influence the hearts and minds of our most impressionable population, who, when it comes down to it, probably just want to meet Mickey Mouse. 

This wasn’t the first time the oil and gas industry had used cartoons to promote its agenda to children. Back in 2011, Talisman Energy released Talisman Terry, the Friendly Frackosaurus, a PR stunt intended to teach kids about the so-called benefits of oil and gas extraction.  

But a world run on dirty, dangerous and unsustainable fossil fuels seems quite the opposite of an enchanted fairytale. When word of Radio Disney’s partnership with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association got out, the public objected, and many were not bashful about voicing their opposition to this unlikely alliance. In fact, over 81,000 people signed a petition initiated by CREDO Mobilize asking Disney to end its involvement with the program. Ohio’s Center for Health, Environment & Justice also weighed in

Their efforts paid off. After a barrage of criticism, yesterday Radio Disney announced that it was pulling out of remaining installments of the tour. In statement sent to Al Jazeera, the company said: 

“The sole intent of the collaboration between Radio Disney and the nonprofit Rocking in Ohio educational initiative was to foster kids’ interest in science and technology. Having been inadvertently drawn into a debate that has no connection with this goal, Radio Disney has decided to withdraw from the few remaining installments of the program.”

It looks like we won’t be seeing fracking rigs popping up within the Magic Kingdom any time soon, a development that should make any fracktivist happy.

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January 3rd, 2014

New York’s Fracking Ban Movement Joins Cuomo for the Holidays

By Alex Beauchamp

You could forgive Governor Cuomo if he’s feeling a little sick of the movement for a ban on fracking in New York. After all, he’s been seeing quite a lot of us this holiday season.

Just before Thanksgiving, the governor headed to Buffalo to raise some money for his upcoming campaign, and there we were. One hundred New Yorkers gathered just outside the fundraiser urging him to ban fracking now.

The next week, the governor headed to New York City’s Theater District for a high-dollar birthday fundraiser, headlined by the singer Billy Joel. Over 700 New Yorkers were there to wish Governor Cuomo a happy birthday – and demand a ban on fracking. 

Perhaps tiring of seeing concerned New Yorkers following his every move, the governor headed to Washington, D.C. the following week. He went to – you guessed it – another fundraiser, this time at the offices of the Podesta Group, a high-priced lobbying firm. But in Washington, even in the midst of a snowstorm that shut down much of the District of Columbia, we were there once again, right outside the fundraiser, demanding a ban on fracking.

None of this should come as a surprise of course. Thousands of New Yorkers demanding a ban on fracking have followed Cuomo for over a year. And, headed into a reelection campaign in 2014, you can count on the movement against fracking to follow the governor all over the state – and out of it as well.

The truth is, we won’t stop until Governor Cuomo protects us all by banning fracking in New York. Our next stop: the movement to ban fracking will be ringing in the New Year in style with a huge rally to ban fracking outside Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address on Wednesday, January 8th. Join us there!

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December 27th, 2013

Why I Give to Food & Water Watch

Today’s blog post is from Susan Selbin, a longtime supporter and donor.

Food & Water Watch New Mexico Organizer Eleanor Bravo and supporter Susan Selbin.

I’ve been a supporter of Food & Water Watch for the past several years. I’m officially retired, but I travel a lot, taking on work outside of the country. When I’m home, I’m personally involved, and when I’m gone, I know that my donation to Food & Water Watch helps to keep the work I care about moving ahead.

In 2011, I was horrified by revelations on fracking exposed in the film Gasland, so I decided I had to get more involved in the movement to protect our water. When I found out that Food & Water Watch staff members were coming to my area, I jumped right in and helped them put together a Gasland screening in Santa Fe. It was a huge success — we filled the room to capacity, and I was inspired to do more. Subsequently, Food & Water Watch hired an experienced organizer, Eleanor Bravo, and opened an office in Albuquerque to ramp up their work in our state.

When I met Eleanor, I knew she meant business. So when she asked me to join her at a hearing on fracking at the State House last year, I couldn’t think of a more important way to spend my time. Long story short, the wait for the hearing lasted six and half hours (six and a half hours!). On top of that, they closed the snack bar, so Eleanor and I had to go digging through our purses for enough spare change to afford some sustenance from the vending machine. It was quite a day, and I learned how hard the state legislative process can be.

Working with Eleanor on days like that, I’ve learned a lot about Food & Water Watch and their staff who go above and beyond to fight for our basic rights. I support Eleanor and Food & Water Watch with my money and time because I’ve seen their fierce commitment to critical issues I care about, like protecting our precious water in New Mexico, and the impact they have in my community. Read the full article…

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December 26th, 2013

Top 13 Reasons to Raise Your Glass to 2013

By Katherine Cirullo

As the year comes to an end, Food & Water Watch has a lot of reasons to celebrate. And the truth is, we owe it all to you! Without the dedication and support of our members, activists and allies, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the 40-plus victories we achieved in 2013. Whether you volunteered your Saturday morning with us, signed a petition, wrote a letter to your local elected official, gave a donation, attended a rally, asked questions at a hearing or spread the word on Facebook – you contributed to reaching goals that we could never have accomplished without you. Your enthusiasm about our work – ensuring safe food, clean water and access to common resources now and for generations to come –never ceases to inspire us. We couldn’t be more grateful.


Food & Water Watch Greetings

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In 2013, together with our allies we: Read the full article…

December 23rd, 2013

A Year of Victories

 

Earlier this month, the entire Food & Water Watch staff gathered to map out our work for 2014. We planned to briefly celebrate our victories from 2013, too… but from local fracking bans to protecting our food from arsenic, it took us over an hour just to list them all! 

These victories are all thanks to you, and we made this infographic to show you all you’ve done in 2013.

 Read the full article…

December 20th, 2013

Top Five Movies to Watch this Winter Break

By Briana Kerensky, Katherine Cirullo and Miranda Carter

‘Tis the season for peppermint hot chocolate, warm fuzzy socks and of course, movie marathons. This year, forget driving to the movie theater and overspending on a two-hour flick and what is, most likely, genetically engineered popcorn. 

Below is a list of thought-provoking, socially, politically and environmentally conscious films that our staff at Food & Water Watch enjoys and thinks you will, too! Got a movie to add to our list? Share your picks in the comments below.

  1. Gasland and Gasland 2: In this Oscar-nominated documentary, Director Josh Fox takes viewers on a cross-country journey to discover the hard, shocking truths behind the fracking boom that has swept across the United States. Interested in hosting your own Gasland or Gasland 2 screening in the new year? Food & Water Watch can help!

    Read the full article…

December 18th, 2013

Wildlife and Pipelines: Like Water and Oil

By Francesca Buzzi

At this point, we’ve seen plenty of faulty logic and shameless greenwashing on many issues associated with drilling and fracking for oil and natural gas. However, we recently came across a pro-drilling argument that would be laughable if it weren’t such a scary example of the lengths the industry is willing to go to confuse the public about drilling and fracking.

Natural gas pipelines, the argument goes, are beneficial to both wildlife and the public because they provide new habitats and recreation areas. This argument is not only wrong, but deliberately misleading. We’ve already written about pipeline problems and eminent domain, but there’s another damaging side to pipelines that doesn’t get mentioned as often.

In the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania, around half of the well pads are located in forested lands, and around a quarter are in core forest—woods that are more than 300 feet from a road or other clearings that form a forest edge. As drilling and fracking for oil and gas continues, an estimated 60,000 miles of new pipelines could be constructed in Pennsylvania alone to connect new well pads to customers. Depending on the size of the pipeline, construction requires a continuous cleared path 30 to 200 feet wide.  Read the full article…

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December 10th, 2013

10 Sustainable Gift Ideas for the Holidays

By Briana Kerensky & Jo Miles

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…to start freaking out about what to get your friends and family for the holidays. Does she need a coffee maker? What’s his sweater size? Has he read this book before? How much money are you supposed to spend? Are gift cards rude?

This year we’ve got you covered. Below are 10 sustainable gift ideas for the holidays. Read the full article…

December 9th, 2013

Energy “Reform” in Mexico Will Only Pave the Road for Fracking 

By Claudia Campero 

In Mexico, as in many countries, information on amounts of recoverable shale gas reserves is uncertain. In 2011, the U.S. Energy Information Administration placed Mexico in fourth place worldwide. In 2013, we slipped to sixth place. Pemex, the Mexican state petroleum company, estimates the quantity to be even more modest. Regardless of how much gas lies beneath our feet, the consequences of the ambitious battle to frack our country is likely to be felt in many communities.

When it comes to hydrocarbon extraction, the context in Mexico is quite different from that in the U.S. In 1938, Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas nationalized all oil and gas reserves. For the last few decades, Pemex has been responsible for all fossil fuel extraction in the country. This is central to the government’s income since it represents 32 percent of all federal income. Pemex is so important that it managed to escape the many reforms made to other sectors in Mexico when the country joined the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. However, powerful international energy corporations have been pushing for a share of Mexico’s energy resources over the last decade, and are currently already working with Pemex through service contract arrangements.

But they want much more.

Read the full article…

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