Thousands Converge in Washington to Launch National Movement Against Fracking
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When I brought up water issues, he said, "We need to have an abundance of caution when it comes to our fresh water. It's not an unlimited supply and we're going through it faster than it can be replenished ... we as a species, including Mother Earth are going to be in some serious trouble... If industry isn't contaminating ground water, you're trying to tell me that it's providing drinking water [water buffaloes] out for people out of the generosity of your heart or do you have a vested interest in not exposing the dangers that are actually in the water that you the industry are actually creating and putting in there?"
Chip Desimone of Damascus, Pennsylvania said to me, "It's a direct threat to the water, property values and my health. I'm so upset, as a veteran of Vietnam; it feels like we're fighting another war."
Jill Wiener, of the Delaware River Basin in upstate New York and an organizer with Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy who was on the advisory committee for the Stop the Frack Attack Rally, chanted over the roar of the crowd, "Do we want clean energy now? Yes! Clean air now? Yes! Clean water now? Yes! That is solidarity and that is what we have with our friends across the shale. These connections that we've made mean that when Texas calls us we will answer, when Oklahoma calls we will answer, when Wyoming calls, we will answer and when New York calls they will answer and we have to stand together!"
Drew Hutton, from Queensland, Australia is the president of the Lock the Gate Alliance, the Australian umbrella organization for all of the community-based groups opposed to fracking in Australia. He informs me that the mission of the movement is "the refusal by land owners to negotiate any kind of access to their land by mining companies. It's a dire situation back home. We've got farmers, some of the most conservative people lining up at blockades, getting arrested and refusing access to their land despite the fact that the law says that they have to." According to Hutton, up to 20,000 landowners have refused to permit access to industry with their rapidly growing national movement. In response to why the Australian organization was participating in the rally Hutton said, "It's often the same companies and we learned from you what not to do." The direct action tactics have been very effective. "If they [the mining companies] can't get on the land, they can't drill for gas, if they can't drill for gas they can't meet their contract, their projects fall over. We've already seen one of the biggest ones fall over, backed by Shell and Petro China, they announced [July 27] that they aren't going ahead with investment."
Josh Fox, the director of the documentary film Gasland joined us and said about the significance of being at the Capitol, "The oil and gas industry are treating governments as if they are subsidiary wings of their corporations. We often think of the government as the highest power but actually at this moment the government is just underneath where the oil and gas world is and are just an expense. You can funnel $747 million to get an exemption to a single law, three-quarters of a billion dollars spent on the Safe Drinking Water Act exemption. That's not democracy anymore. That's the government as a subsidiary of oil and gas. That's what we're trying to fight against and a lot of people in Congress know it."
Sharon Wilson, aka Texas Sharon, had to move from Wise County in North Texas where, "Mitchell Energy experimented and learned how to get oil and gas out of shale," she said. "It was literally born in my backyard. It cost me a great deal because I too lost my American dream." Wilson adds, "The impacts to health are the same all across the globe. Frequent bloody noses, headaches, heart palpitations; many, many health problems that people experience. Water, soil and air are contaminated, but industry keeps saying that there's no proof that they're contaminating our water. But what they do when there is a contamination is they offer them some cash in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement which means those records are forever and permanently sealed from reporters, from our scientists and from our lawmakers. That allows them to say there's no proof of harm, but the truth is they've been covering up their trail of pollution with these non-disclosure agreements."