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

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US 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 / 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

CCARE

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

Moveon.org'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

NYH20

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

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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