After a recent report that New York officials are considering allowing fracking to take place in various communities across the state, environmental activists – backed by celebrities – have announced they are fighting back.
The event – called “Stop the Frack Attack” – will be held July 28 in Washington, D.C. Demonstrators will demand Congress stop the dangerous process of natural gas extraction known as fracking. They will also call for the closing of seven legal loopholes that disallow the oil and gas industry from being subject to the scrutiny of certain parts of the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts. The rally will call for the pursuit of clean, renewable energy, rather than practices that put environmental health at risk.
The celebrities, joining over 100 organizations and community groups, will include Pete Seeger, Ed Asner, Margot Kidder, Lois Gibbs, Bill McKibben, Josh Fox, and Mark Ruffalo.
Ruffalo has been incredibly outspoken against what the natural gas industry is doing. His environmental activism included co-founding an anti-fracking advocacy organization, called Water Defense.
“I saw my neighbors leasing their land to gas companies,” said Ruffalo about why the fight had a personal touch for him. “And I realized if I didn’t do something, it would destroy the place I live. The fact that something like this can happen in America is unbelievable.”
On May 15, the Avengers actor hosted a rally and concert in Albany, New York; its goal was to send a message to the state’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo – that it is absolutely not okay to lift the moratorium on fracking in New York.
And that’s exactly what a proposed plan in the state would do: Fracking would be allowed in five New York counties that have been deemed to be suffering from economic stress. Many residents fear the practice could lead to water contamination, as was the case in Dimock, Pennsylvania, “which is the epicenter of the fracking disaster,” as Ruffalo put it.
The gas industry’s exemption from clean water regulations highlights its power. Another demonstration of its influence came when the Department of Environmental Conservation – while preparing draft fracking regulations – shared that information with oil and gas lobbyists to seek their feedback, according to a press release. In other words, the department chose to cater to representatives of the industry, rather than the people at risk.
New Yorkers aren’t the only ones who need to worry, either. In Los Angeles, California, which suffers droughts, residents are wondering what could happen to their drinking water.
Another major concern is fracking’s correlation with small earthquakes.
“Fracking is happening completely unregulated in the state of California,” said Brenna Norton, an organizer with Food and Water Watch. “And wastewater injection from fracking is linked to earthquakes.”
This concern carries so much weight because the Inglewood Oil Field – a place where fracking occurs – sits very near to the Newport-Inglewood Fault, which, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has the capability of unleashing a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.
“I didn’t buy here thinking [fracking] was going to happen in my backyard,” said Los Angeles resident Gary Gless. “I would have had second thoughts about living here.”
This and other concerns about what fracking could do to communities in the state underscore the need for “Stop the Frack Attack.”
“Fracking is proof that our addictions to fossil fuels have gone too far,” said Kidder. “In the face of this kind of destruction, doing nothing is not an option. I’ll be in D.C. on July 28 because I’m worried about the world my grandchildren will inherit without immediate action. We have to stop the destruction, and we have to do it now.”
Photo: A woman holds a sign during a fracking protest in Albany, N.Y. Mike Groll/AP