With the Capitol of the United States and self-constructed Frack Attack tower replicas as a background, a sign-carrying crowd, which organizers claimed exceeded 5,000 protesters, yesterday staged the 1st ever national protest of fracking. a process that employs drilling to extract natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth.
Opponents say fracking poses threats to human health, water supplies and ecosystems. Yesterday, busloads of people impacted by fracking in their communities joined forces with national organizations and DC-area environmentalists to call on Congress to halt fracking and keep Americans from the dangerous impacts of the process.
"We are afraid to drink the water. We are afraid to breathe the air," a mother of a family already living in a processed area said to sustained cheering from the crowd.. "You (the energy companies) are not welcome in our communities. We are afraid of living with you, but we are not afraid of you."
Other speakers said that while the big energy companies are willing to expend large sums of money to promote fracking, the voice of the people will not be silenced. Following their remarks, the speakers led the crowd in rousing choral cheers. "Frack, no! Frack, no, Frack no," they exhorted.
Rally speakers included Bill McCibben, co-founder of 350.org, a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. "As the increasingly bizarre weather across the planet and the melting ice on Greenland makes clear, at this point we've got no choice but to keep fossil fuels underground. Fracking to find more is the worst possible idea," McCibben said.
Participants of the rally, which concluded 3 days of events and workshops to launch a national campaign, listed 3 demands. They wanted:
- an end to dirty and dangerous fracking,
- closure of the seven legal loopholes that let frackers in the oil and gas industry ignore the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act and
- full enforcement of existing laws to protect families and communities from the effects of fracking.
The rally also drew a number of the curious, drawn to the site by the colorful signs and the sharp rhetoric. Not all the observers were convinced of the rightness of the frack attack. Overheard from one: "It's ironic that the protesters came on buses. What do they think those buses run on? When they holler 'Ban Fracking Now!' it makes me want to shout 'Drill, baby, drill.'"