by Mary Tuma
Via Global Frackdown
The “Global Frackdown” – a worldwide initiative to challenge the controversial oil and gas extraction method, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”– invites communities across the world to organize events calling for a ban on fracking and a renewed investment in clean energy alternatives.
The fracking process pumps a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressures thousands of feet below the ground to break up the shale and give way to the fuel source. Critics of fracking argue the technique leads to water and air contamination, health problems, chemical leaks, industrial disasters and earthquakes. The South Texas Eagle Ford Shale formation is widely expected to produce most of the state’s oil in the years to come but fracking in the area has come under criticism, most recently from environmental watchdog EarthWorks for its lack of government oversight, as the Current previously reported.
In its second year of existence, the Frackdown credits itself with passing nearly 340 measures against fracking, wastewater injection and frack sand mining in the U.S. It also touts the passage of fracking moratoriums in the Delaware River Basin Commission, Vermont and the Netherlands, the continuation of fracking bans in Bulgaria and France and the introduction of new laws for assessing unconventional gas impacts in Australia. The global movement also says it helped persuade more than a third of the members of the European Parliament to vote in favor of an immediate moratorium on shale gas.
Participating partners include environmental groups from Ireland, Germany, Spain and several U.S.-based organizations like MoveOn.org, Frack Free Colorado and FracDallas. The word spread locally, spurring members of Students United for Socioeconomic Justice (a group born from the Occupy movement) at The University of Texas at San Antonio are planning an “Agua es Vida” march in conjunction with the global movement, meant to draw attention to protecting the Edwards Aquifer. Speakers include local human rights activist Antonio Diaz and anti-fracking organizer Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger.
“The issue is very directly affecting us down here especially since we’re in the heart of this industry activity and there’s very little action opposing it,” Nansi Singh, a representative with the student group, tells the Current. “Our group is definitely poised to be that voice of opposition– I think this part of the country really needs it.”
Singh says she hopes the local event brings San Antonians out of the woodwork. “A lot of people just don’t have an outlet and they don’t know where to go to protest fracking. We want to encourage people to find their voice, join us or start their own organization.”
Her group describes fracking as, “a blatant threat to the prolonged health and well-being of our planet,” and points to the recent deepwater injection wastewater well explosion in Karnes County, that injured at least one person, as the latest example of lack of safety by the oil and gas industries. According to Earthjustice (the legal defense arm of environmental group Sierra Club) two major fracking accidents or “fraccidents," as they dub them, have occurred South of San Antonio in the past two years– an explosion and fire at an Eagle Ford Shale disposal well that injured three people and an explosion at Vann Energy Company that left two workers with second-degree burns.
The “Agua es Vida” event takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. at the San Antonio River Authority, 100 E. Guenther St.