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Thousands Converge in Washington to Launch National Movement Against Fracking

The rally demanded that Congress take immediate action to protect our health and our water from the harmful effects of hydro-fracturing for gas and oil.

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Why are thousands of people taking their time, and resources on an extremely hot and muggy mid-90 degree weekend day to participate in this protest? The determination and the multitude of people from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas, Montana, Colorado, Maryland, California, Australia, and South Africa among others, demanding that their voices be heard, make the urgency and mobilization of this movement  clear. As these modern-day warriors took to the streets, the future of communities is unknown. As the global initiative to extract gas expands globally so do the stories of heartbreak and loss, anger and resistance. Directly under my home in the Sullivan County Catskills are the desired Marcellus Shale gas reserves the oil and gas industry has targeted for drilling and extraction. Shale rock formations, including Utica, Eagle-Ford, Barnett and Monterey, are either being fracked or are targeted throughout the United States and globally for this form of extreme shale gas extraction.

The movement to examine, and reveal the risks caused by this form of extreme fossil fuel extraction is building with a focus on the United States where the fracking technology developed and is exported globally. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimated in 2010 that "70 to 140 billion gallons of water are used to fracture 35,000 wells in the United States each year."

The shale gas "play" is rapidly expanding both locally and internationally with cases of contaminated water and air and adverse health impacts being reported by hundreds and even thousands of people across the United States. The exact number is difficult to obtain as numerous non-disclosure agreements are made between citizens and the oil and gas industry where problems have been reported in drilling zones. So many people shared their stories on Saturday, whether from the stage or with me in person that it is apparent that the movement to stop fracking is building in the United States. Robert Finne from Heber Springs, Arkansas was asked to attend because he is on the advisory committee of the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) to address grassroots needs and represent the hard hit state of Arkansas with so few people speaking out. Finne told me, "One day I woke up and realized I lived in gas land. I have compressor stations surrounding my house, I've got at least half a dozen frack sites all within a mile of my house and constant traffic that wasn't there before, so I knew I needed to get involved."

Rancher John Fenton from Pavillion, Wyoming says, "We got hit really hard by natural gas drilling; it began to affect our water and our way of life and disrupt the agriculture. The biggest impact for us are the health impacts our family has seen, our youngest son having seizures, my wife losing her smell and taste, our neighbors becoming sick but it's also we're losing our way of life."

After the industry ignored his complaints about the water, he and community members contacted the EPA. Fenton continues, "After over three years of studying they've come back with a draft report saying that the hydraulic fracturing has impacted the deep aquifers in the Pavillion area."

He adds, "I am here today because I think that if instead of one person at a time speaking, we can get all of these voices across the nation, they're going to have to pay attention to us."

The Frack Attack Rally was the national launch for the movement to stop fracking by raising awareness, building coalitions and to put pressure on elected officials as a reminder that they represent the people and not corporations. Events and additional trainings will continue in Albany and New York City on August 24, 25 and 26, and in Pennsylvania on September 20 for Shale Gas Outrage, followed by actions throughout communities affected by fracking in the coming months. 

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