Today 350.org, Josh Fox and some good friends announced in a public letter the Don't Frack OH action, 3 days in June dedicated to training and movement building, including taking over the Ohio statehouse for a People's Assembly that will 'pass' legislation that Ohioans need to stop fracking.
There are many reasons to stop fracking in Ohio, but let me unpack two: fracking is causing earthquakes across the country and natural gas is a potential climate killer.
Fracking and earthquakes
On Dec 31, 2011, a magnitude 4.0 quake struck Youngstown, Ohio. The quake triggered shaking reportedly felt as as far away as Buffalo, N.Y., and Toronto. It was the strongest of 11 earthquakes that have struck the region since March of 2011.
In April 2012, the US Geological Survey issued a paper at the Seismological Society of America (pdf) that said that “a remarkable increase in the rate of [magnitude 3.0] and greater earthquakes is currently in progress” in the U.S. mid-continent: "In 2009, there were 50 earthquakes greater than magnitude-3.0, the abstract states, then 87 quakes in 2010. The 134 earthquakes in the zone last year is a sixfold increase over 20th century levels."
Natural gas and the climate
The key thing to remember is that natural gas crowds out true renewable energy in the grid. Instead of building to the future as its supporters claim it will, natural gas actually puts serious cracks in any bridge.
What's worse is that methane escapes during drilling, and because it's a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 is, it could be speeding up climate change instead of slowing it down. A new study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that methane leakage from drilling, and especially fracking, has been underestimated and could exceed 2.4%. Leakage over this level would reduce the Technology Warming Potential (TWP) of NG by about 25% over the first three decades — far different than the typical statement that you get a 50% drop in CO2 emissions from the switch.
You can find out more about the action, scheduled for June 14-17, at dontfrackoh.org. Hope to see you there. The full text of the invitation is found below.
Dear friends–The fracking industry has been causing earthquakes in Ohio. So it’s time we caused one of our own.
No, not a 4.0-on-the-Richter-scale temblor like the one that shook Youngstown on New Year’s Eve. Instead, we need to aim for an 8.0 on the political scale–we need to shake Columbus with the biggest anti-fracking gathering yet seen in the U.S.Save these dates: June 14-17, in Columbus.
The 14-16th will be dedicated to training and movement building, and on the 17th we’ll be taking over the Ohio statehouse for a people’s assembly that will ‘pass’ legislation that Ohioans need to stop this destructive practice. You can sign up here, but we need you to do more–please spread the word to friends and colleagues. And get ready for the caravan that will cross the state in mid-May to raise awareness – we’ll have much more on that front soon.
Fracking is a great mistake for many local reasons. By now we’ve seen its effects on local water supplies: the dead creeks in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the wells poisoned to the point where residents can’t drink from their faucets. We’ve watched fracking cause the worst air pollution in the U.S., even in Wyoming counties so remote and unpopulated that they lack stoplights. We’ve seen enough to know that communities are as easy to fracture as rocks–that neighbors have been turned against neighbors, and towns blighted as they turn into industrial zones crisscrossed by endless tanker trucks.
Gov. Kasich wants to bring all this to Ohio–and why not, since the industry donated $213,000 to his last campaign? His legislation would put only the slightest and most token reins on the industry. Foreign countries (France, say) have banned fracking, and several states including New Jersey and Vermont are poised to prevent the practice; in New York there’s been a de facto four-year moratorium.
Ohio is just the latest of many states poised to become a sacrifice zone. But as the nation’s attention turns to Ohio for the election this fall, it is a fitting place to make a stand and say that this process must stop once and for all. Of course we won’t stop here either: other governors, from New York, to Colorado, to even California should be on notice that a powerful movement against fracking is brewing in their backyards.It’s hard to overstate what’s at stake here. We used to think that natural gas might be a help in the fight against climate change–but new studies have demonstrated that so much heat-trapping methane leaks from fracking fields that it may be just as dirty as coal.
Ohio is also the dumping ground for fracking wastewater from many other states, and untold thousands of barrels of toxic and radioactive poison is injected underground into dozens wells in Ohio every day. This pollution is an inevitable result of any form of fracking, and if we stop the gas industry from treating Ohio as its personal dump, we may very well succeed in slowing down fracking operations across the northeast region and beyond.
Ohio used to be one of the country’s leaders in renewable power–the solar and wind industries were sparking a manufacturing renaissance. But the 18-story gas-drilling rigs along the Ohio River are starting to make life hard for renewable energy: because they don’t have to pay for the environmental damage their drilling does, they can undercut everyone else’s price. “It’s kind of taken the wind out of wind,” one businessman explained.
We can’t let that happen–we can’t let Ohio turn into a pincushion, pricked with drill rigs and shaken by earthquakes. If we stay silent, special interests will win; if we speak out together we have a chance. Not a guarantee–the fossil fuel industry is awfully rich. But we’re going to give it a try.
Please join us June 14-17 in Columbus!
Bill McKibben – 350.org
Josh Fox – Director – Gasland
Michael Kieschnick – Executive Director, CREDO Action
Alison Auciello – Food and Water Watch
Katie McChesney – Ohio Student Environmental Coalition
Teresa Mills – Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Vanessa Pesec – President, for Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection
Ellie Rauh – Fracking Coordinator Buckeye Forest Council
Ohio Alliance for People and Environment
Athens County Fracking Action Group
Frack Free Ohio