Don't Frack Our Water and Health

Carolyn Raffensperger Tours Ohio
By Linda Park Cleveland Branch and Earth Democracy Coordinating Team Member



Stop the Frack Attack: On July 28, join the mobilization in Washington, D.C. Over the past few years, the disastrous public health and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking,” of shale rock to extract natural gas and oil have been documented in community after community and in the award-winning documentary “Gasland.”

Join the first ever national mobilization to ban fracking. So many landowners and communities are struggling to fight back, but local and state governments, Congress and President Obama are not listening to the people. Existing laws are outdated and loophole-riddled, enforcement is universally inadequate and underfunded, and politics and campaign contributions trump health and the environmentHere is good information on fracking and a map of local “fight-back” actions nationwide.

Carolyn Raffensperger, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network was treated to a three-day whirlwind trip through Ohio, June 22-24, speaking at four venues. She is a captivating speaker who tailors remarks to each audience. The tour began in Yellow Springs at Glen Helen Ecology Institute, Antioch College. The mostly academic audience was very interested in her message.

Briefly, recent studies show that that natural gas is likely as bad as or worse than coal for its global warming impact; highly toxic fracking fluids and wastewater are contaminating surface and groundwater to cause severe health problems and disease; and, disposal of fracking fluids by injecting them into deep wells is shown to cause seismic activity. Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress and many Governors support fracking as key to energy policy for decades to come, even though much of the oil and gas is for export.The next day, she was whisked east across the state to Youngstown where disposal of fracking fluids trucked in from out of state into several deep injection wells has caused earthquakes and solidified the activist community. On the third day, she spoke to two audiences in the Cleveland area that included legislators, activists and organizers in the surrounding farming communities.

Some themes were common to all presentations. We have often talked of keeping the earth for seven generations. This is not sufficient, as the life-span of many pollutants is for many hundreds of thousand of years. Is this a legacy we want to leave for future generations? In our everyday lives, we do not ask for proof on everything. If a child runs into the street, we grab them and bring them back. We do not stop to see if a car is coming or decide on the probability of a car coming. Why do we make decisions about polluting the planet based on probability? Why not use common sense and say stop until safety is proven? This is key to the Precautionary Principle.

Ms. Raffensperger characterized corporations that are fracking our lands as 16-year-olds that, as any parent knows, push the limits with sometimes tragic outcomes. Responsible parents put limits on teens’ activities that have consequences for impacts beyond the limits. Why are our governing bodies not putting such limits on the oil and gas corporations that are fracking? She also used the example of the extreme increase of breast cancer cases. An individual trying to say that increased use of chemicals cause this disease has little proof, and chemical manufacturers have batteries of lawyers to say it cannot be proved, leaving the person with the disease must pay the consequences.

Ms. Raffensperger warned that we must not fall into the trap of “either/or.” Few situations are as simple as this. We must look for alternatives, and while doing so, be sure that those out to destroy our commons are held back so that we have a commons to pass on to future generations. She left an energized group of activists with some hope to be able to stop the fracking madness. A recent mini-grant made this tour possible.

In North Carolina, despite the anti-fracking voices of half-a-million people, fracking became state law on Monday, July 2, 2012. Until 9:30 that night, there were enough votes to sustain Gov. Perdue's veto of the fracking bill. Those of us who refuse to compromise our water lost by one vote. Horrified, sad, and angry we won't give up. We go forward more determined to educate about undisclosed chemicals, scientifically-based articles about water contamination, endocrine disruption, explosions, earthquakes, truck-driving accidents, spills, community conflict, split leasing, forced pooling, and, yes, houses exploding and faucets catching fire.

Prevention is still worth a pound of cure, but there is no cure for poisoned water. We urge local “anti-frackers” to not give up, and join the July 28 mobilizatoin in DC. Lib Hutchby and John Wagner, Water Committee and Earth Democracy Coordingating Team Members, Triangle Branch of WILPF, Chapel Hill, NC.

“Stop the Frack Attack” is four days of action in Washington, D.C. from July 25, with July 26 Lobby Day, and a mass mobilization march on Saturday, July 28.

Say “NO” to Trading Away Democracy to Corporate Rule Under the TPP

Through July 10, secret talks on the TPP took place in San Diego, CA, amidst public protests, but you wouldn’t know it from media reports. That’s why we must shine a light on an  agreement that is not about trade and the economy, it’s about locking in global corporate governance for the wealthy and corporate 1%. It is worse than all other agreements. Just listen to this interview of Laurie Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Take Action Now: First sign this letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk requesting release of the full TPP text. Read about the TPP and send a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper and to your members of Congress here. Share this excellent interview of Arthur Stamoulis of the Citizens Trade Campaign.

Chile, Peru, Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and the U.S. are all potential partners. But, the people of all these countries have been locked out of negotiations, while more than 600 corporate lobbyists have a seat at the table.  A major provision of the TPP is that after the first countries have signed, any other country can enter negotiations and sign, leading to a global corporate coup.

In June, we learned a little about the agreement only because part of it was leaked, including, most recently, the Investment Chapter. It’s very bad news. The TTP limits how federal and state officials can regulate foreign firms doing business within the US, giving them greater license than US companies. It extends incentives for US firms to move jobs to low-wage countries. Just like other FTAs, the TPP creates a "tribunal" that has supreme authority over our own courts and Congress, and our local and state lawmakers. This three-person tribunal can effectively overturn democratically-enacted laws enacted to protect their bottom line. Either scrap the law—and protection of local jobs, economies, public health, or ecosystems—or pay the huge fine. Workers, communities, and democratically-elected governments of TPP countries are being sold out to ensure windfall profits and unlimited power for the 1% wealthy and corporate elite.

This June at the U.S. Mayors Conference, attending Mayors passed unanimously a Resolution that personhood should apply to human beings only and that Citizens United should be overturned, while at the same time passing a Resolution to support the TPP.

Much of the TPP has been agreed upon, but we can stop it. Soon, we’ll send you an Action Alert on how to “step it up.”

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