Washington, D.C. (Thursday, October 22, 2015) — Today, representatives from Breast Cancer Action, Courage Campaign, CREDO, Center for Biological Diversity, Daily Kos, Deluge, Environment America, Environmental Action, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, National Nurses United, The Other 98%, People Demanding Action, People for the American Way, Presente.org and Progressive Democrats of America gathered outside of the Capitol with Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) to deliver over 350,000 petitions urging Congressional support of the Protect Our Public Lands Act, H.R. 1902. The legislation is the strongest anti-fracking bill introduced in Congress to date and would ban fracking on public lands. It was introduced this Earth Day by Reps. Pocan and Schakowsky and seven other original cosponsors. The bill now has 27 cosponsors.
“It’s clear from the over 350,000 petitions being delivered today that Americans across the country share my concerns about fracking and its impact on the environment,” said Representative Mark Pocan, the bill’s sponsor. “Our national parks, forests and public lands are some of our most treasured places and must be protected for future generations.”
“Our public lands are one of America’s greatest assets. They have been preserved and protected by the federal government for over one hundred years,” said Schakowsky, an original cosponsor of H.R. 1902. “We owe it to future generations to maintain their natural beauty and rich biodiversity. The Protect Our Public Lands Act – which would prevent fracking damage to those lands – is an important step in that direction.”
“My constituents in New Jersey, and millions more Americans in New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware all rely on clean drinking water from the Delaware River,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a cosponsor of H.R. 1902. “Fracking there is a direct threat to their health, and to the green spaces and environment we’ve worked hard to protect. When people visit federal land — in New Jersey and around the country — they expect pristine landscapes, clean air, and sparkling water. We can’t afford to put that at risk just because we’re unwilling to move away from fossil fuels.”
Fracking is a dangerous method of extracting oil and gas that has no place on our public lands. Fracking produces large volumes of toxic and even radioactive waste and risks accidents, leaks, spills and fires, while competing for scarce water resources, polluting the air and water, and exacerbating climate change.
“The evidence that fracking is bad for the environment, public health and local economies is staggering and the American people are taking notice, said Mitch Jones, Senior Policy Advocate for Food & Water Watch. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country are demanding that America’s cherished public lands not be fracked. By passing The Protect Our Public Lands Act Congress can get on the right side of history: protecting national resources and heritage, while also decreasing America’s contribution to climate change.”
“Every year, the Department of the Interior hands over vast areas of publicly-owned land to the fracking industry to be pillaged for corporate profit,” said CREDO Action Campaign Manager Zack Malitz. “Encouraging fracking on public lands puts our air, water and the health of nearby communities at risk,” Malitz continued, adding, “if we want to stop the worst effects of climate change, we have to ban fracking on public lands.”
About 20 percent of all potential U.S. oil and gas lies beneath public lands. Already, fracking companies lease over 34 million acres of public lands, and over 200 million more acres could be fracked in the future.
“Fracking has marred landscapes and ruined waterways around the country,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America. “Until this dirty drilling is banned altogether, the least we can do is keep it out of some of America’s most treasured natural areas— from Chaco Canyon to the White River to the George Washington National Forest.”
“Corporate profiteering is running rampant on America’s public lands. Whether Nestle is gorging itself on scarce water during California’s devastating drought, or oil and gas are companies fracking our most sacred national parks, this abuse must be stopped. These lands belong to the American people, not corporate profiteers,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the California-based Courage Campaign.
Mounting evidence shows that fracking threatens our air, water and public health. To make matters worse, reports have shown that existing fracking wells on public lands aren’t being adequately inspected, creating even more potential for disastrous accidents. Fracking on public lands also threatens more stable economic sectors like tourism and agriculture and creates socioeconomic instability in exchange for temporary, dangerous jobs.
“The scientific evidence of the myriad of health harms associated with fracking continues to grow,” said Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action. “That’s why today, we’re telling our legislators that there’s no place on our public lands for this inherently toxic process, which threatens to expose the public to harmful chemicals linked to increased risk of breast and other cancers.”
“As nurses, we know that fracking is an extreme and unsafe method of extracting fossil fuels that pollutes our drinking water, and negatively impacts our environment and climate. Nurses declare fracking a clear and present danger to public health,” said Rita Collins, a registered nurse and a proud member of National Nurses United. “Nurses will continue to fight at the bedside and beyond to advocate for the health of our patients, our communities, and our planet.”
Unfortunately, oil and gas corporations have been drilling and fracking on public lands, without regard for the people who these lands were intended to be enjoyed, and not exploited by. Fracking has already seriously damaged our public lands and ground water, and areas buffering America’s most precious national parks and monuments are at increasing risk.
“Fracking has dire consequences for everyone on earth, and for Latino communities in particular,” said Matt Nelson, Managing Director of Presente.org. “It poisons our air and water, destroys the land that our families and economies depend on, and brings us to a bleak future where our grandchildren cannot breathe fresh air, drink clean water, or eat food grown in uncontaminated soil. We need immediate federal action to protect our communities from the greediness of corporations that are literally trying to grind up and sell the earth we live on.”
“When big energy corporations can pour unlimited money into our political system, their interests are able to overshadow the public good. Despite the outcry from ordinary Americans, fracking has already brought serious harm to our public lands,” said Rio Tazewell, campaign coordinator at People For the American Way. “We need real reform so our elected leaders are working for ordinary Americans instead of wealthy corporations.”
Contact: Ryanne Waters, Food & Water Watch, (818) 371-0912, [email protected]