September 14th, 2011

U.S. Grassroots Effort to Ban Fracking Ramps Up, as Groups Solicit the UN to Recognize Fracking as a Human Rights Issue

Over 5,000 Calls Made to the White House from Citizens Concerned About Fracking

Washington, D.C. and Brussels—On the heels of last week’s demonstration in Philadelphia that attracted over a thousand activists concerned about the public health and environmental problems associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking), over 5,000 Americans from all 50 states flooded White House phone lines yesterday to tell President Obama to ban the polluting, dangerous practice. Spearheaded by the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch, United for Action, and Center for Health, Environment and Justice, nearly 50 organizations across the country and individuals in every state called on Obama to ban fracking.

“President Obama has got an energy problem on his hands,” says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “Citizens, many of whom helped to get him elected, are becoming increasingly worried about fracking and other dirty energy schemes the administration is assessing, like the Keystone XL pipeline. Our water resources should not be sacrificed for energy, and he’s hearing this in no uncertain terms from people all over the country.”

The calls to the White House come in the lead up to next month’s critical vote by the Delaware River Basin Commission on whether or not to open up the watershed to fracking. President Obama has one of five votes on the Commission, along with the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Delaware River is the drinking water source for 15.6 million people in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“Fracking is not clean, or green,” says Lois Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. “We don’t have to look any further than Dimock, Pennsylvania or Dish, Texas to see the devastating effects of fracking, and we must ban the practice to ensure that no other communities are made unsafe or unlivable in its wake.”

“There are hundreds of reasons not to frack, any one of which provides sufficient reason to stop hydraulic fracturing,” says David Braun, co-founder of United for Action and the National Grassroots Coalition. “However, we don’t just have one good reason, we don’t just have five, but we’ve got hundreds. So why are we doing it?”

Food & Water Watch is also bringing fracking to the attention of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, where UN observers are weighing in on Catarina De Albuquerque’s report on the human right to water and sanitation. In her U.S. assessment, De Albuquerque, the special rapporteur for the human right to water and sanitation, reported on water contamination found in the U.S. from fracking and recommended “a holistic consideration of the right to water by factoring it into policies having an impact on water quality, ranging from agriculture to chemical use in products to
energy production activities.”

“Now that the human right to water is legally binding and has been officially recognized by the UN General Assembly, and De Albuquerque has determined that fracking could further imperil the human right to water in the U.S., we believe that the U.S. should stand behind its commitment to safeguarding this precious right to water and ban fracking,” said Darcey O’Callaghan, International Policy Director at Food & Water Watch.

According to Food & Water Watch’s recent joint letter with UNANIMA International to the UN Human Rights Commission, fracking isn’t only a problem in the U.S. The oil and gas industry has its sights set on fracking in Europe, with the U.S. energy information administration forecasting 187 trillion cubic feet of gas resources available in Poland, followed closely by France at 180 trillion cubic feet. France, however, following strong civil society protests, currently has a moratorium against fracking.

“Poland is the Marcellus Shale of Europe,” said Gabriella Zanzanaini, Director of European Affairs for Food & Water Europe, the European program of Food & Water Watch. “Energy security is a real concern for Poland, given its current reliance on Russia, but the government and citizens should also be aware that fracking can cause explosions, well contamination and public health effects that could be devastating to rural communities—as communities in the U.S. have experienced.”

The groups participating in the call-in day to President Obama include:

Advocates of Apple Valley NY
Ashtabula County Farmers’ Union
Bakken Watch
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Center for Health and Environmental Justice
Citizens for Elbert County
Climate Action Coalition of New Paltz
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Food & Water Watch
Fort Worth Can Do
Frack Action
Frack-Free Catskills
Gardendale Accountability Project
Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC)
Grassroots Environmental Education
Josh Fox and Gasland
Marcellus Outreach Butler
Marcellus Protest’s Denver Council
National Grassroots Coalition
NEOGAP (Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection)
New Yorkers for Clean Water
No Frack NY Coalition
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
NY Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD)
NYC Friends of Clearwater
Ohio Alliance for People and Environment
Peaceful Uprising
Protect Idaho’s Natural Resources
Protecting Our Waters
Russian Riverkeeper
Sharon Springs Against Hydrofracking
Stop Arkansas Fracking
Students Against Fracking
Sustainable Ostego
T.A.S.K. (Take Action Spread Knowledge)
Tribeca for Change
Ulysses Gas Drilling Advisory Board
United for Action
Westchester for Change
Western Colorado Congress
Wharton Valley Alliance
What the Frack
Working Families Party

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

Food & Water Europe is the European programme of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organisation based in the United States. Food & Water Europe champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people and advocate for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment.