Five Years After An ‘Impossible’ NY Ban On Fracking, We’re Going Even Bigger

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12.16.19

Food & Water Watch was founded on the premise that public interest organizations shouldn’t just go after the easy wins — they should take on the fights that will actually protect people and our essential resources. So when we saw the alarming evidence that fracking was harming our air, water, food, and climate, we knew we had to saddle up for this fight. 

The oil and gas industry had their sights set on drilling in New York, and we saw it as a place where we could actually ban it outright. So our organizers joined with grassroots activists across the state, formed the New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition, and got to work. 

On December 17, 2014, we won the historic ban on fracking. And since then, we have taken the winning strategy to other states, and across the Atlantic to several countries in Europe.

The public health risks were becoming apparent — people didn’t need scientists to tell them their tap water isn’t supposed to catch fire

The mystery and secrecy behind the chemicals being pressurized and injected into shale formations also raised alarming questions about what long-term effects fracking would have on our clean water and our health. People didn’t want fracking in their community — period. 

It Would Have Been Impossible Without People Power

One of our New York organizers remembers the campaign to ban fracking in New York well:

“The fight against fracking was a massive undertaking sustained by incredible commitment and diversity. Grassroots groups from Long Island to Buffalo devoted year after year to the campaign. Beer brewers and nuns, farmers and doctors, rock stars and surfers – all these and more came together to take on the oil & gas industry.

The outpouring of activism continues to amaze me: the hundreds of rallies and other events; the hundreds of thousands of petitions and phone calls; the countless letters to the editor, fact sheets, and other efforts to educate and engage our fellow New Yorkers.

This constant effort happened everywhere: on street corners and at farmers markets, in church basements and at libraries, outside supermarkets and at the beach. Oftentimes, it was an image on a flier – that of tap water catching fire – that created awareness and provoked outrage. As the campaign grew, “fracking” evolved from an obscene-sounding word few had heard of to a widely understood threat New York had to reject.

It was the accumulation of countless conversations – thousands of interactions – with our friends and family, neighbors and co-workers that built our power. And it was smart strategy and effective organizing that channeled that power and focused it on Governor Cuomo. In the end, New Yorkers recognized that there are safer alternatives to gas, but there are no alternatives to water.” —Eric Weltman, New York Senior Organizer

Long Term Data Shows Fracking Is Worse Than Imagined

We were concerned at the initial signs many years ago that fracking was unsafe. And over time, the science has shown that we were right . 

We Have Made Powerful Enemies In This Fight

We have stood with our allies in New York and across the nation to oppose fracking, and with people power on our side we’ve continued to stop the fracking industry’s progress. 

The United Nations’ special panel on climate change has said that we must massively curb carbon emissions within ten years, or face more intense catastrophes. It is quite literally a race to either ban fracking everywhere, or for the frackers to sink their teeth deeper into the United States with new pipelines, wells and power plants

Our successes have shown the industry we are an opponent to fear, as communities rise up to stop them. To put it bluntly, frackers hate us because they know we can win.

Our work to defend citizens like Ray Kemble when they stand up to frackers has also landed us in the industry’s crosshairs. That’s why our brilliant Food & Water Justice legal team ensures we can hold our ground against the fracking bullies who want to stop people from speaking out. 

We Are Closer Than Ever To A Full Ban On Fracking

2019 has brought a presidential primary that has focused more than ever on whether candidates will do what it takes to ban fracking. You helped us make that happen! We repeated our success by winning a ban on fracking in Maryland, and it was also banned recently in Washington, and halted for five years in Oregon. We even have a Republican governor in Florida pledging to ban it, and the conservative Prime Minister in the United Kingdom enacted a fracking moratorium—which shows just how unpopular fracking is. 

We stepped up at the start of this fight, and we are going to finish it by banning fracking anywhere and everywhere. And just like with the ban in New York, we can’t do this without people power. Are you ready for the next big win?

This content was originally published here.

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