Broad-based coalition calls on the Obama administration to stand up for Americans, not the oil and gas industry
Washington, D.C.—A week after President Barak Obama committed to addressing the increasing threat of global climate change in his second inaugural address, 119 local, state and national environmental, public health, consumer and faith-based organizations today called on him to stop promoting policies that facilitate drilling and fracking for oil and gas, including those that would increase the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Led by Americans Against Fracking, this effort to protect communities from the environmental, economic and health risks associated with natural gas development also came just several days after more than 8,000 concerned Americans flooded White House phone lines asking President Obama to ban fracking and exports of liquefied natural gas.
“President Obama said it best himself in his inaugural address—we need to protect current and future generations of Americans by addressing the increasing threat of climate change,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Mounting scientific evidence clearly shows that fracking and drilling are contributing to this problem. He needs to heed his own words of wisdom and ban fracking now.”
Extracting, transporting and burning natural gas all contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and worsen global climate change. In addition to the carbon dioxide emitted from burning natural gas, significant amounts of methane leak as new wells are fracked and as natural gas is transported. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, about 33 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over 100 years, and about 70 to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years according to a 2009 study published in Science. New evidence, including data from researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicates that the oil and gas industry and the Environmental Protection Agency have drastically underestimated the extent of methane emissions from drilling and fracking operations.
“The massive methane emissions linked to fracking could push us over climate cliff,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “President Obama has spoken forcefully about the dangers of global warming, but now he needs to act. To protect our children’s future, we need to halt the fracking boom.”
In the coming months, President Obama will face several key decisions regarding the United States’ energy future, including whether to approve any of the 16 applications and counting, that the Department of Energy has received to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas to non-free trade agreement countries. Such exports would intensify drilling and fracking across the United States.
“DFA Members around the country are calling for a ban on this dangerous drilling method. Fracking is bad for our communities, it’s bad for our environment and it’s bad for our health — we should be rejecting this risky practice rather than expanding it,” added Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America.
President Obama is also expected to weigh in on a proposal to open the Delaware River Basin to fracking and drilling, a decision that has been postponed several times over the past two years due to heated public opposition. To date, the Delaware River Basin Commission has received more than 35,000 public comments regarding the decision, the majority of which oppose fracking. The Delaware River provides drinking water to over 15 million Americans and would be significantly threatened if drilling and fracking is allowed in the Delaware River Basin.
“There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the connection between environmental links to increased risk of breast cancer,” said Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action. “As long as breast cancer remains a public health crisis, we need to take concrete steps to protect public health and stop cancer before it starts. Our government has a responsibility to protect us from toxic fracking chemicals that may increase a woman’s risk of developing the disease. We need common sense measures to protect our health.”
The movement to ban fracking in the United States is building momentum. Last month, over 170 local, state and national organizations came together to launch Americans Against Fracking, a national coalition calling for a ban on the controversial and dangerous practice.
“When a coalition like Americans Against Fracking that has only been around for a month can generate over 8,000 calls to the President urging a ban on fracking, it’s clear that Americans have serious concerns about this dangerous practice,” said David Braun of United for Action. “Even Obama’s own EPA has found contaminated groundwater in areas where fracking has taken place. But the practice is still legal, and our president still seems to be turning a blind eye to the egregious consequences that many Americans suffer as a result of fracking. We need true leadership that takes us towards renewable energy, not backwards into policies that support the dirty energies of the past.”
Read the letter to President Obama here.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(org).