The People at the People's Forum

The week of May 20th, the U.S Senate is holding a series of hearings on the natural gas industry. Speaking at the Senate hearings will be a certain kind of expert: economists, industry insiders, a few environmental representatives.

The experts the Senate won’t have: people from across the country who are directly affected by irresponsible fracking and drilling.

That’s why we’re holding a parallel Stop the Frack Attack People’s Forum on Capitol Hill — so impacted community experts will have an opportunity to share their stories. If you have a story to share, drop us a line at info@stopthefrackattack.org.

Cautionary Tales from Jill Wiener: Moore County

North Carolina welcomed us with open arms, and home made cookies.  Seriously, after a long travel day where Robby, Robert and I met in Raleigh and drove out to Moore County, we arrived at our hotel at midnight and were greeted by care packages made up of local newspapers, including one with an article about the Stop the Frack Attack (STFA) tour, gift certificates for our morning coffee and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies.

The care packages were left for us by a force of nature; Betty Thomas. Our important first lesson of this trip is lead with sweetness and truth. When we got to meet Betty on Tuesday morning we found her as delightful as promised.   Betty, like me, has an affinity for flowers and pottery.  And, like me, is very concerned about protecting her community from dangerous fracking.

The grassroots and grasstop organizations in North Carolina are working together to educate about fracking and the devastating realities of what could happen if their government allows the frackers to start industrializing rural areas of the State.  STFA partner organizations Environment North Carolina and Clean Water for North Carolina are part of a coalition that hosted our tour and are working to keep North Carolina frack free.   There is a real power in coordinating efforts and we have seen that in New York, where we ‘enjoy’ a fragile de facto moratorium on fracking.

Educating elected officials to the harm that could befall the state at the hands of the industry is an essential part of their collective work.  When I first started visiting legislators in NY if they knew anything at all about fracking it was gleaned from glossy industry brochures.

On Tuesday night Robert and I presented our personal stories to a packed house in Pinehurst.   We relayed how we have been fighting to protect our neighborhoods, states and country, really our collective backyards, from an industry that is not accountable to even the most basic environmental laws and that places profits over our public health.   They have left a trail of contaminated air and water and fractured not just the shale, but also communities that live above it. They have replaced sustainable economies with a bust that regularly befalls a community that ‘hosts’ extraction.

Our resources are finite and our heath and climate are not renewable. There is a renewable energy revolution at our fingertips we just need the political will to grab it.   There is a Plan for North Carolina as there is for every other state and the TheSolutionsProjet.org .  That is a great place to get started on the path to StopTheFrackAttack.org

Jill Wiener

Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy (catskillcitizens.org)

STFA Advisory Council Member

 

Cautionary Tales from Deborah Cipolla Dennis: Our Stop in Delano

We are on our way to Los Angeles on a hazy, warm afternoon in the California Central Valley. We just left Kern County, which is known for two things – food farming and oil wells. I am with two men from Colorado, Rod Brueske and Shane Davis, who have been personally impacted by the fracking in Weld County and have been working to bring awareness to the citizens of their state about fracking.

I am from Dryden – a small town of about 14,000 people in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. My town successfully banned fracking using a zoning ordinance in 2011. Shortly after our ban was enacted, we were sued by Anschutz Exploration. We prevailed at the local court level and when the gas industry appealed, Earthjustice stepped in to lead us to victory at the Appellate Court. We are here to share our stories and experiences in the hopes that we can support the communities of Central California in protecting themselves against the harms of fracking.

Last night we had dinner with about 35 Kern County residents concerned about the current impacts of oil extraction and production as well as the future impacts of fracking. We were hosted by Gustavo Aguirre, Gustavo Aguirre, Jr., and Juan Flores from the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment (CRPE). The residents, mostly farm workers, explained their concerns and told us their stories of health impacts that they have already experienced. One woman relayed a story of her daughter being born with only one kidney and no reproductive organs. She required special care and died three years ago. One gentleman expressed that he felt that the politicians did not understand the concept of hard work and that they are disconnected from the people that they represent.

CRPE is a national environmental justice organization providing legal, organizing, and technical assistance to grassroots groups in low-income communities and communities of color. They have a long history of working with communities on issues such as civil rights, climate justice, air quality, and agriculture and industrial waste dumping. As Gustavo explained their history, I was humbled by their vast years of experience organizing and leading residents in making change in their neighborhoods. We have been fighting fracking for a relatively short period of time compared to the multi-generational issues that the Kern County communities have been working on.

I was particularly impressed with their Community Garden efforts, which serve as organizing anchors and leadership opportunities as well as providing participants with a place to grow healthy food. Campaigns may come and go but the gardens are perpetual and positive. Doing something like this in Dryden might help to keep our participants stay engaged–and our visit to Kern county resulted in many lessons like this being shared.

In the morning we met Juan, an organizer with CRPE, who took us for a tour of Kern County beginning with the 40 Acres, where Cesar Chavez led the farm workers to organize and form the United Farmworkers Union in the early 1960’s. California’s Central Valley produces 50% of the nation’s food. It is a vitally important area that is also experiencing a severe drought. The people of Delano, Arvin and Shafter understand the importance of water and are prepared to protect their communities against the new threat of fracking. Dryden and the many towns in New York have banned fracking because we share this same desire – to ensure our community has access to fundamental human rights, safe and clean water, air and soil for our families and our farms.

We then traveled to Shafter and Arvin to see their community gardens where families are able to grow their own organic vegetables. In Shafter, they are concerned about the fracking that is happening only a few thousand feet from their garden. In Arvin we visited a neighborhood where five families were evacuated due to toxic fumes in their homes. The homes were roped off with caution tape and the oil company had created sparging holes in their backyards to vent the gas. Gustavo Jr. reported that one of the families told him that they had been smelling fumes for more than 6 months. As we stood outside the contaminated homes, Gustavo Jr. and Rod talked about best practices for using the Global Community Monitor Bucket Brigades to test air quality–a tool both have used to stand up for communities whose air has been polluted by the oil and gas industry.

While fracking may be a new issue for the communities of Kern County, they are not new to organizing for environmental justice. Gustavo stated that the key to getting people to come together is building and maintaining relationships. One positive thing about this fracking issue is that I have been able to build relationships and work together with people across California, New York, Colorado and other areas that I would never have done otherwise. Our visit to Kern county put my work in Dryden in the bigger context of environmental justice struggles that have been fought for generations. I’m inspired to continue listening to, learning from and sharing with communities around the country which together make one big movement.

Cautionary Tales from Fracked Communities: CA! March 14th-21st

The Cautionary Tales of Fracked Communities is a nationwide tour that is coming to CA with stops in Sacermento, Merced, Delano, and LA to help you in your fight. During the panel you will hear from those who are living with gas development everyday, and more importantly they will talk about how they are fighting back.
Speakers include Rod Bruneski and Shane Davis- both of whom are impacted community members from Colorado. Both had their american dream taken away as gas development set in in their community. Then we will hear from Deborah Cipolla Dennis who is a grassroots leader in the fight for local bans in New York state.
In LA we will hear from Gary Gless and Paul Ferrazzi, Co-Founders of Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community a non-profit fighting against the negative impacts being seen in their neighborhoods from the rapid expansion of the Inglewood oil field in Los Angeles County.
Come hear the realities of fracking like never before, and then hear how we can fight back !

All Panels Start at 6:30!

Sacramento March 14th:
Westminster Presbyterian Church
1300 N St Sacramento, CA 95814

 

Merced March 18th:
Merced Civic Center, Sam Pipes Room
678 W. 18th St., Merced, CA, 95340

 

LA March 21st:
St. Andrews Lutheran Church
11555 National Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90064

Cautionary Tales form Fracked Communities: NC! March 25th-27th

 

Can you join us on in Charlotte and Moore County NC to hear the realities of fracking and how other are fighting back?

The Cautionary Tales of Fracked Communities is a nationwide tour that is coming toNorth Carolina to help you in your fight. During the panel you will hear from those who are living with gas development everyday, and more importantly they will talk about how they are fighting back.

Speakers will include Karen Freudian, a grassroots activist from Kutztown Pa who has successfully helped fight against gas development in her community, with a major victory this past year by getting the PA Democratic party to add a Fracking Moratorium to their party platform. Also speaking will be Jill Wiener- Small business owner turned activist from New York who has been leading the charge to keep fracking out of New York. We will also be hearing from Robert Nehman a father from Iowa whose life was turned upside down after frac sand mining came to his town.

After we hear from our panel we will shift into the second part of our event- a training on how to lobbying your local offical. This training has been crafted to help us build the power needed to win.

Come hear the realities of fracking like never before, and then hear how we can fight back on

 

Moore County on March 25th:

Congregational Church of Pinehurst  UCC
895 Linden Road Pinehurst NC
Starting at 7:00 pm

 

Charlotte on March 27th:

UU Church of Charlotte
234 N Sharon Amity Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
Starting at 6:30

The Struggle to Get Our Story Told

This February and March, the members of the Stop the Frack Attack Network, are launching an ambitious plan to bring the stories of those impacted to those who need to hear them.  We’re calling it the People’s Forum Roadshow. In the past two years since our founding, we have challenged ourselves to put those who are directly hurt by fracking in the forefront of our work, looking past personal political beliefs and figuring out how we can empower folks to speak out and get the reparations they deserve.

The concept of the Peoples Forum Roadshow is that its more than a traditional speaking tour.  We’re going to four states, North Carolina, California, Maryland, and Florida, all of which are in crucial moments in their fight against fracking.  Right now is a critical point in the fight around fracking, we are continuing to build power on the national level,  with the inspector generals report showing the failures of EPA, but we must not ignore the state level fights. We must continue being on the offensive in these strategic states, we will begin see the victories we know are possible.

The Peoples Forum Roadshow will not be like other speaking tours.  This isn’t a national organization dropping in and creating more work for local groups to do.  Instead, local grassroots leaders have created the very foundation of the project, working to make sure each stop empowers a local organizer and provides them with training they need and want. Each stop is being determined by the local community so that the focus is always on what will be most valuable for them, whether it’s Direct Action training or assistance working with media.

This speaking tour won’t be the final nail in the coffin for fracking; but it will be the beginning of a national push to make our movement stronger.  We look forward to seeing you in the streets and in the seats.

Our Schedule:

Maryland and DC, February 2 – February 5: Click here to sign up!

California, March 13 – March 22:

  • Fresno

  • Bakersfield

  • Los Angeles

  • Sacramento

North Carolina, March 24 – March 28:

  • Charlotte

  • Moore County

Watch the Stop The Frack Attack’s People’s Forum!

On May 22nd, sixteen people from eight different states convened in Washington D.C. to share their stories. Coming from varying political backgrounds and livelihoods, these citizens’ agenda was simply to have their voices heard. Stop The Frack Attack’s People’s Forum was an avenue for directly affected people to speak out against aspects of the oil and gas industry.

This is a crucial time for oil and natural gas policy on Capitol Hill. Just last week the Obama administration released a set of  regulations governing fracking on Interior Department lands — and despite thousands of comments urging Interior to make them strong, they instead listened to the oil & gas companies and make them weaker. The discussion continues as the Senate Energy Committe holds a set of forums on natural gas development where “experts” will testify.Deb Thomas Frack Attack Forum

But the true experts are those living with the every day impacts – the poisoned water, the polluted air, the nosebleeds and terrible smells – and through the Stop the Frack Attack People’s Forum, they found a way to get their story out.

As speaker Deb Thomas commented, “When this industry hits you, you not only have to be a person who is trying to raise your family. You have to be a researcher. You have to be a reporter. You have to be an inspector. You have to be a physician to try and find out why your family is sick, and in some cases dying”.

To hear more first hand perspectives from inspiring activists, watch the full People’s Forum here.

But of course, the story doesn’t end with this event.  WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. If you would like to tell your story, drop us a line at info@stopthefrackattack.org.  We’ll post it the Stop the Frack Attack website, and help get the word out every other way we can.

Some media coverage of the event:

Oil Rigs Make Bad Neighbors: Americans Harmed By Oil And Gas Drilling, Seek To Be Heard

Two Wyo Residents decry fracking in D.C.

Fracking roundtable: Congress must close loopholes for industry in protective laws