Tuesday,   January 07, 2014
Take Action!
“In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the ways of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule.”

– Pope Francis    

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

– Upton Sinclair    


2013 will go down as the year when opposition to fracking went national. For the first time, polls showed that a majority of Americans reject it – and when given the opportunity, communities all across the country chose to prohibit it.

In New York State, the local ban movement gained added momentum after an appellate court, upholding lower-court decisions, declared that towns have the right “to enact a local zoning ordinance banning all activities related to the exploration for, and the production or storage of, natural gas and petroleum within its borders.” Twenty-eight municipalities enacted bans last year, bringing the statewide total to 71. Another 106 municipalities have moratoriums in place. FracTracker’s Karen Edelstein estimates that these measures protect almost two million New Yorkers.

On December 19th, Pennsylvanians received an early Christmas present from that state’s supreme court when it overturned provisions of a 2012 law stripping communities of the right to prohibit fracking, even in residential neighbor-hoods. The court ruled that municipalities must allow fracking somewhere within their jurisdiction but may bar it in some areas. In rendering their decision, the justices cited the Environmental Rights Amendment to the state constitution, which guarantees citizens “clean air and pure water.” The amendment itself is an expression of popular will – voters approved it by a four-to-one margin in 1971.

Mora County, New Mexico, became the first county in the nation to ban fracking. The county is poor, sparsely populated, and largely Hispanic – and now it’s being sued by the fossil fuel industry. “We’re trying to figure out how to fund our ambulance service,” said County Commissioner Paula Garcia. “This legal battle makes that work much more difficult.”

Despite an expensive PR campaign mounted by the oil and gas industry, voters in four Colorado cities (Boulder, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Bloomfield) approved fracking bans in last November’s elections. Voters in the city of Longmont adopted a fracking ban in 2012, and that municipality is now being sued by the gas industry and the state of Colorado.

Texas may be a headquarters for Big Oil and Big Gas, but not even frackers want to get fracked. Dallas effectively outlawed the practice by increasing setbacks from drilling operations to 1,500 feet from any home, school, or church.

And even Hawaii got into the act when the Big Island’s County Council voted unanimously to ban fracking.

Finally, when Illinois passed a law that permits fracking, the town of Fairfield (population 5,000) struck back by banning strip clubs and nude dancing – exactly the kinds of local businesses that flourish when out-of-state workers descend on rural communities.


New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s
State of the State Address
Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
11:30AM – 3:00PM
State Capitol Empire Plaza
Hallways to the Concourse, South Mall Arterial
Albany, NY 12242
Find a bus to Albany here.


Although voters and local officials with close ties to their communities are taking action, the “big fish,” the state and national politicians who swim in a sea of corporate campaign contributions, seem to be incapable of standing up to the fossil fuel industry.

In September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law opening the Monterey Shale to fracking despite public opposition.

After three years in office, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo still refuses to demonstrate leadership. Some observers feel that the governor will continue to duck the issue until he’s re-elected later this year; at that point, he may decide to open up the state to fracking in exchange for industry cash that can be used to fuel a presidential bid.

In recent years, New York State senators have accepted almost $4 million dollars from pro-fracking interests – and have dutifully failed to pass a single bill to protect the public.

Unwilling to accept the ruling of the state’s highest court, the administration of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has hired outside counsel to try and get the Supreme Court to reverse its decision that declared provisions of Act 13 unconstitutional.

Those of us who thought President Barack Obama might bring common sense to bear on America’s reckless energy policies have every reason to be disappointed.
  • In his second inaugural address and in his State of the Union speech, the president professed to be deeply concerned with climate change, yet he still has not acknowledged credible evidence that indicates that the fugitive methane emissions associated with shale gas disqualify it as an effective resource that can be used to reduce greenhouse gases.

  • On his watch, the EPA has repeatedly abandoned investigations that seem to link instances of water contamination to fracking.

  • The Department of Energy continues to approve the licensing of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals that will inevitably lead to increased fracking here at home.

  • President Obama has permitted corporate lawyers to negotiate a secret so-called “free trade agreement,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that threatens to undermine state, federal, and local laws that protect the health and safety of American citizens. If he succeeds in getting “fast-track” authority, neither Congress nor the public will have the opportunity to modify a deal that gives unprecedented power to multinational corporations and that will likely result in increased exports of fracked gas.

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