fracking | Food & Water Watch - Part 7
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Blog Posts: Fracking

November 22nd, 2013

The United States of Oil and Gas Interests?

By Kate Fried stack of one hundred dollar bills

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…

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November 19th, 2013

Celebrities Ask: What the Frack?

By Briana Kerensky

Marisa Tomei

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…

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November 15th, 2013

The U.S. Coast Guard is Pushing for a Fracking Disaster Waiting to Happen

By Katherine Cirullo

A Barge on the Mississippi RiverOn 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…

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November 13th, 2013

It’s Pay-to-Play Science as Usual

Money and BooksBy 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

H.R. 2728: Congress Wants to Frack Our Federal Lands

By Katherine Cirullo

George Washington National Forest in Virginia

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…

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October 17th, 2013

Standing in Solidarity with Canadian Activists During the Global Frackdown

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…

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Forty Shades of Green or a Handful of Greys?

By Ineke Scholte

Activist Ineke Scholte, Ireland

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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