For Immediate Release, August 22, 2013
600,000 Comments Call on Obama to Ban Fracking on Public Lands
Americans Against Fracking Submits Petitions Urging President, Bureau of Land Management to
Protect Communities From Fracking Pollution
WASHINGTON— A coalition of 275 environmental and consumer organizations today delivered to President Barack Obama and the Bureau of Land Management more than 600,000 public comments asking the federal government to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public lands.
The messages — collected by Americans Against Fracking, the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, CREDO Action, 350.org, the Post Carbon Institute, Daily Kos, MoveOn, Progressive Democrats of American, Environmental Action, United for Action, Berks Gas Truth and other organizations — amplifies the message sent by the thousands of people who called the White House yesterday to urge President Obama to protect communities and public lands from the negative effects of fracking.
“Americans want President Obama to protect our beautiful public lands and our communities from fracking pollution,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “This is an inherently dangerous technology that contaminates our air and water and disrupts our climate. The president has a duty to protect our environment and our heritage by standing up to the oil and gas industry and preventing fracking in these wonderful wild places.”
A letter sent today to the president by Americans Against Fracking and its coalition partners explained that the Bureau of Land Management controls access to more than 700 million acres of federally owned mineral rights, most of which are beneath federal public and American Indian land. Currently about 38 million acres of federal public land are leased, and over each of the past four years, the oil and gas industry has drilled more than 3,000 new wells, most of which will be, or have been, fracked.
“President Obama has a responsibility to live up to his commitment to reduce climate change and move our country to a clean energy future, and he can do that today by banning fracking on our public lands," said Mike Hersh, a MoveOn volunteer organizer in Maryland and Maryland coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. “Today marks the largest demonstration of public support for President Obama to ban fracking. MoveOn members have submitted more than 165,000 comments to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and are organizing in 40 states to protect our water, our climate and our communities.”
"As President Obama calls for urgent action on climate change, it makes no sense to usher in a new, monumental threat to our climate, with a massive expansion of fracking for oil and gas on public lands," said Zack Malitz, campaign manager for CREDO. "President Obama should ban fracking on public lands."
In June President Obama articulated the importance of addressing global climate change in his Climate Action Plan. Yet drilling and fracking for oil and natural gas will only make the problem worse. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas, at least 25 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a 100-year time frame. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration found that the rate of methane leakage in at least two active natural gas fields is much higher than the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory’s current estimate.
“Expanding the use of natural gas through accelerated drilling and fracking will prove disastrous for the planet,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “If President Obama truly wants to curb climate change, he will listen to the science and ban fracking.”
When burned, natural gas produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide. In fact, even if methane leaks could be minimized to about 1 percent of what is produced, the International Energy Agency has estimated that a scenario of increased global dependence on natural gas would increase the global average temperature by 3.5 degrees Celsius, or by about 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit, by 2035.
“The Keystone XL fight is proof that everyday people can fight toe-to-toe with the fossil fuel industry to stop climate change,” added Jason Kowalski, policy director for 350.org. “Fracking is unlocking new carbon reserves, and this is carbon that climate scientists say we can't afford to burn. President Obama takes climate change seriously, so he knows we can't simply frack our way out of this problem.”
Among the federal lands targeted for drilling and fracking are watersheds vital for the provision of clean drinking water for millions of Americans, such as the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, Wayne National Forest in Ohio and George Washington National Forest in Virginia. Also targeted are federal lands near iconic national parks, such as Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah and Sequoia National Park in California. The deadline for submitting public comments to the federal government regarding drilling and fracking on federal lands is August 23.
“Our public lands are a national treasure and a sacred trust passed by one generation of Americans to another,” said Drew Hudson of Environmental Action. “Fracking on public lands threatens the drinking water of millions of people, including the president's daughters and everyone else here in Washington, D.C. It would also poison many of our last wild and pristine ecosystems. Fracking has no place on our public lands, and these citizens, more than half a million of them, are calling on the president and the Bureau of Land Management to say: ‘Yes we can ban fracking.’ ”
The submission of these comments comes just weeks after the Los Angeles Times revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency shut down a fracking-related water contamination investigation in Dimock, Pa., despite evidence that water there was polluted. The Los Angeles Times reported that regional EPA staff warned senior EPA officials that water tests revealed high levels of methane in the drinking water of a number of homes in Dimock. Instead of continuing the investigation, the EPA abruptly closed the case, stopped water deliveries to the residents and deemed the water there safe to drink. This week, concerned Americans have convened in New York and Pennsylvania to protest the agency’s apparent mishandling of the Dimock investigation.
“President Obama need look no further than Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest to see fracking's devastating effects on our public lands. Fracking is a dangerous, destructive practice that perpetuates our reliance on outmoded forms of energy. It has no more place on our public lands than it has in our energy future,” concluded Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth.
Americans Against Fracking is composed of the following groups: www.americansagainstfracking.org/about-the-coalition/members/. For more information about Americans Against Fracking, visit www.AmericansAgainstFracking.org.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.