The ban on fracking in New York State is a great catalyst to inspire grassroots environmental groups to come together. Shortly after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking due to health and safety concerns of residents, clean air, and drinking water, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a response that said he was opposed to a ban and would make sure fracking was “safe.” A big piece of Wolf’s election promise was to slap a severance tax on dirty shale gas and use it to pay for schools, transportation, budget-balancing, etc. That sounds attractive from the sidelines, but it’s actually really scary how much new drilling will occur. Now is the time to reallocate resources from coast to coast, and get mobilized to stop fracking across the USA.
The reason for New York’s ban on fracking was partially because of the efforts of local unfunded groups like Citizen Action, NY. But more significantly, the movement in New York got a big boost by having full-time paid organizers, web and email support, and material support from larger environmental and social justice organizations like CREDO, Food & Water Watch, the Park Foundation. etc. If we want to continue this momentum, continue to ban fracking in different areas, and fight the entrenched powers of the fossil fuel industry, we need to make sure the resources used to help ban fracking New York are given to countless other places that need them.
The interconnectedness of this fight is obvious. Via various news outlets environmental organizations, social justice organizations, citizens, law makers, lawyers, activists, etc., are demonstrating resistance and cohesiveness on many fronts. The People’s Climate March in New York City back in September of this year was a reminder of that and the more recent Millions March was another.
The truth is that America is finally waking up to the fact that so-called ‘energy independence’ means that we need to end our dependence on the big industries that are polluting our environment, destroying our air and water quality, sacrificing our public health, and threatening our future in order to protect their bottom line (read: profits).
For those who think OPEC is gonna cut us off from oil, they’re wrong. They’re happy to continue to supply us with fossil fuels, regardless of price. The connection that has to fracking is that fracking keeps us dependent on fossil fuels by undermining the development of sustainable locally generated energy, which is just as feasible. It’s hard to argue with an industry that has such a financial pull in our government, but people power in New York State showed that people power can pay off and now we need to bring that power from the frontlines to the state house and the white house.
The fossil fuel industry has countless people lobbying on their behalf every day. They have clever campaign ads and donations, like many corporations, given to all sorts of groups, schools, companies, etc. to try to prove their loyalty to their customers and shareholders. Unfortunately, many of the non-profit organizations fighting these extractive energy processes don’t have the resources to allocate to the same kind of lobbyists to fight for clean air, water, and climate justice.
By bringing resources from New York to other states who serve as an example of the shale gas economy, most notably, Pennsylvania, we can more than double our efforts and further work together to ban fracking nationwide. New York State and Governor Cuomo have led by example. Now, all we need is for other shale gas boom states to follow.
Photos by the author, and via Shutterstock