fracking | Food & Water Watch - Part 7
Victory! Governor Cuomo bans fracking in New York. more wins »
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Blog Posts: Fracking

March 10th, 2014

The Backroom Out Front in Annapolis

By Mitch Jones

It was slick business as usual last week in the Maryland Environmental Matters Committee. If you blinked, you might have missed your chance to count the votes on HB 409.  

On Friday, March 7, a bill that would have banned the treatment, storage, discharge and disposal of fracking wastewater or “flow back” in Maryland was up for a vote in the committee. The bill was sponsored by Del. Shane Robinson and had 33 additional cosponsors, including eight members of the committee. Yet, even with that level of support, leadership dismissed the bill as if it were an unserious piece of legislation.

The legislation is necessary because the state’s wastewater facilities are not equipped to handle or process many of the chemicals that would turn up in fracking fluid, so the bill was designed to protect Maryland’s wastewater systems from fracking associated risks. And while there is currently no fracking wastewater coming into Maryland, fracking wastewater was treated in Baltimore in 2010 and there is no law in place to prevent this happening again when there’s a new administration in 2015. Read the full article…

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March 7th, 2014

Natural Gas is Not a Geopolitical Bargaining Chip

By Wenonah Hauter 

In the battle over the future of U.S. energy policy, the oil and gas industry has presented many bogus justifications for pursuing fracking. Playing on the public’s genuine patriotism, energy independence is trotted out as the most compelling argument.  This rings even more hollow in the current debate about using natural gas as a bargaining chip in the crisis unfolding in the Ukraine

The Obama administration is considering sending fracked gas overseas in what the New York Times recently described as a “lever against Russia” in the escalating tensions in Eastern Europe. This move is clearly a result of influence pedaling by energy companies—an industry so money-grubbing that even tragic geopolitical events are fodder for increasing profits. 

Companies like ExxonMobile should not control U.S. foreign policy, and we should not sacrifice communities across the United States for illusory policy objectives that are really about increasing market share for a few energy giants. It is irresponsible to push for more fracking—a process that dramatically increases methane emissions in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Inserting natural gas into the narrative about the imploding situation in the Ukraine will only lead to more global instability, and in the long run, undermine any national security goals that proponents claim will be achieved.

By this time, our leaders should know that allowing outdated, polluting fossil fuels guide our foreign policy strategies is a bankrupt one.  Pressure on the Obama administration to allow exports of natural gas to commence demonstrates the cynical willingness of the industry to use an international calamity to achieve its long-term policy goals. The arguments in favor of export demonstrate the dishonesty of the oil and gas industry’s claims that fracked gas is the key to U.S. energy independence.

We’re not standing for this, and neither should you. Please join us in telling the Obama administration that we cannot let the escalating crisis in Ukraine become an excuse for more fracking in the United States. 

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February 27th, 2014

You say “Potato.” Rex Tillerson says “Potahto.” 

By Kate Fried 

The movement to protect communities from fracking has closely been following the curious case of Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, who has attracted attention this week for his involvement in what appears to be an anti-fracking lawsuit. In what many are considering the height of hypocrisy, Tillerson has joined former U.S. Congressional Representative Dick Armey in an effort to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower in their neighborhood intended to supply water to fracking sites.

Read the full article…

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February 17th, 2014

President Obama: Steward of the Environment or Steward of the Oil and Gas Industry?

By Katherine Cirullo

We live in an era of heightened environmental consciousness and concern, and our world leaders are just starting to catch on. President Obama said it loud and clear during his 2014 State of the Union Address: “Climate change is a fact…When our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.” But are words enough?

On this President’s day, we should recognize those who have done well for our country and those who have done well for our planet. But we should also consider how our current president’s environmental legacy would be written. It is certain that President Obama’s legacy will be defined not only by what he did for the people, but by what he did for the environment – the air, water and land that we all depend upon. Yet, a president’s legacy is characterized by momentous feats and also failures. The question is: which side of the spectrum will he be on?  Read the full article…

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February 12th, 2014

Stay Safe in Snow Storm Pax While You Learn, Laugh and Take Action

Constance Zimmer, Raphael Sbarge and Samantha Ressler star in our new videoBy Royelen Lee Boykie

First and foremost, everyone at Food & Water Watch is about safety during weather warnings.

Please stay warm, comfortable and most of all safe during Pax (apparently named to add “peace” to the event) and all other severe weather-related encounters.

Your well-being secured, take the time to get smart (and maybe get a laugh, too) with our best “fowl” weather information.

We hope by the time you’re finished, the weather and related news will be clear and your routine will be hassle-free.

February 6th, 2014

Communities Ask Congress: Come See What Life is Like in the Gas Patch

By Katherine Cirullo

Residents whose water has been contaminated speak out against fracking on Capitol Hill. Left to Right: Craig Stevens, Ray Kemble, John Fenton. Not picutred: Steve Lipsky

According to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, making her agency “active and visible” in the communities it serves is a top priority. As of yesterday, she even went the full mile and declared February “Environmental Justice Month.” What’s ironic is, the EPA has yet to make communities affected by fracking-related water contamination a top priority. They’ve received no justice. Instead, they’ve been abandoned and left to advocate for themselves and many others.

“There’s a possibility that thousands of people we represent can get some help if we stand up,” said John Fenton, of Pavillion, Wyoming as he stood courageously in front of a room full of congressional aids, reporters and allies. “Knowing that, maybe it’s worth being the example.”

As we’ve blogged before, Fenton, along with Ray Kemble of Dimock, Pennsylvania, Steve Lipsky of Parker County, Texas and Craig Stevens of Pennsylvania years ago turned to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the connection between their contaminated water and nearby oil and gas drilling. The EPA intervened on behalf the communities, but, to no avail, as it eventually dropped all three investigations. After months of nation-wide public pressure and despite a recent EPA Inspector General report that asserts the EPA was justified in its initial intervention in Texas, the agency refuses to re-open the cases. Moreover, the Obama administration refuses to meet with these people who have been affected by water contamination ‑ those who now devote their lives to making sure that the truth is heard and that thousands of others are protected.

Yesterday, John, Ray, Steve and Craig came to Washington, D.C. to continue their mission to expose the harmful effects of fracking. Only this time, they came to demand Congress’s help. At a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by Representative Matthew Cartwright (D-PA), Stop the Frack Attack and Americans Against Fracking, these activists, joined by Josh Fox, director of Gasland and Gasland 2, urged Congress to listen to their stories, share them, and pressure the Obama administration to re-open the abandoned water contamination investigations that leave them without drinkable water. “Support the people that you’re supposed to support,” declared Fenton. Read the full article…

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January 29th, 2014

President Obama’s Legacy to Corporations?


By Wenonah Hauter

Did you see President Obama’s State of the Union last night? While the President had an optimistic tone, again and again, I saw the same theme of giving more power to corporations at the expense of the people.

Last night, President Obama told us once again that he wants to fix income inequality in this country. He even announced a minimum wage increase for government contractors, which is one step in the right direction… but if he’s serious about better pay for ordinary Americans, he shouldn’t be pushing for trade deals that will bolster corporate profits and let corporations move jobs overseas, not to mention taking away communities’ rights to protect themselves from corporate abuses.



If he succeeds, these deals (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership) would lead to more imports of potentially unsafe foods and the export of fracked gas. It would put corporate profits ahead of people’s health and safety. Let President Obama know you’re disappointed that he’s supporting trade deals that put corporations above communities.



When it comes to fracking, President Obama’s State of the Union speech touted his “all of the above” energy plan as a success, even though his administration has repeatedly scuttled investigations into the damaging impacts of fracking, like water contamination. He also said he doesn’t want to leave our children with the impacts of climate change, but fracking hurts communities and it’s not a solution to our energy woes or the climate crisis.

 Even though President Obama said he wants to protect our pristine public lands, his administration is still considering opening them up to more oil and gas fracking. Send President Obama a clear message: it’s past time that he changed his mind on fracking.



President Obama mentioned the debate over the proper size of our government. We can’t let that debate compromise the safety of our food by cutting funding that the USDA needs to properly inspect our poultry. In the State of the Union, he spoke about his interest in streamlining the government, but he’s doing so at the expense of our health and safety when he lets the meat industry do their own safety inspections. That’s letting the fox guard the henhouse, and it’s no way to keep our food safe.

Please take a minute to let the President know that you want him to put the health and safety of American communities ahead of corporate profits. Let’s send a strong message to President Obama after his State of the Union speech.

January 27th, 2014

Fair Is Fair: Why President Obama Needs to Meet With Victims of Fracking-Related Water Contamination

By Katherine Cirullo and Jill Pape

Ray Kemble of Dimock, Pennsylvania

Ray Kemble stands outside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a jug of contaminated tap water from his home in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Last fall, a group of six individuals from Texas, Pennsylvania and Wyoming came to Washington, D.C. to fight for their communities and their water. Americans Against Fracking and Stop the Frack Attack joined them in a march to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With 250,000 public comments in hand, together they demanded the EPA re-open three investigations into the connection between fracking and contaminated drinking water that they had abandoned.

Today, years after the initial water contamination, and months after the petition delivery last fall, we continue to stand by these victims of fracking and are doing so by holding the Obama Administration accountable for its inaction.  

Years ago, these individuals discovered that their tap water was contaminated as a result of nearby drilling. Read the full article…

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January 20th, 2014

Why We Serve: Stories From Food & Water Watch Volunteers

In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, we honor the dedicated, hard working volunteers whose service with Food & Water Watch is bringing real change to their communities and the wider world. We asked a few of them to tell their stories about why they serve, and here’s what they told us: Read the full article…

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!

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