Fracking Protest Draws Thousands To DC

On Saturday July 28th nearly 5,000 people gathered to protest fracking regulations and advocate for safer, cleaner, better methods of protecting our citizenry and environment from natural gas procurement.

Photographer, Paul Perrin, documented the event which included celebrities: Mark Ruffalo, Pete Seeger, Ed Begley Jr, Margot Kidder, Dar Williams, Lois Gibbs, Gus Speth, Ed Asner, and Holly Near as well as activists: Bill McKibben, Josh Fox, Cornell West, Vandana Shiva, and James Hansen.

It may be nice to have celebrity attention, and activist endorsement, but the real stars of Saturday’s protest were the regular citizens.  It seems that the outrage that many hold as a result of fracking’s apparent effect on localities like Dimock, Pennsylvania where the EPA recently conducted testing on the local water supply and claims that local fracking caused problems in the water.  Although the EPA eventually found that it was unnecessary to offer the residents with alternative sources of water, the agency also said it found hazardous substances — specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances — in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern.

Given these findings, one can understand the concern of one protester at Saturdays event, Ray Kemble.  Here is Ray with a gallon of water from his home.  Perrin described meeting Mr. Kemble to me in a recent email;

“On my way out,I saw Mr. Ray Kemble from Dimock, PA and a gallon jug of the filthiest fluid I had ever seen. “Is that fracking fluid?”

“Why no, that’s my tap water after the oil company started fracking.  I had my well water tested before the fracking began, and it was completely normal.   After the fracking started, he showed me the list the EPA found of over 60 chemicals in his water…..lithium……4 different types of uranium……..”

While many “fracktavists” object to fracking because it seems to threaten water and the environment, Bill McKibben  (cofounder of points out that the problem is far larger in scope than only local environmental damage, “As the increasingly bizarre weather across the planet and 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.”

The facts are pretty clear, and pretty simple.  We don’t know what fracking really does.  Everyone knows that, even the “experts” at the gas companies.  If we did know, then we wouldn’t have to ask where the toxins in Kemble’s water came from, we wouldn’t have to ask if fracking causes earth quakes, and we wouldn’t have to wonder what other terrible consequences might be paid by the people in fracking communities for our addiction to easy energy.

What we do know, is also scary.  Even if fracking were a safe process, it is still a process of bringing more fossil fuels to the surface during a time when humanity is fighting global climate change caused by humans burning fossil fuels.  It is common sense that instead of trying to tap more wells, deeper and more dangerously, we should be capping those wells and tapping into other clean energy sources like wind and solar.

We are suffering the effects of global climate change right now, Exxon executives don’t even deny it anymore.  Mr. Kemble shows what fracking can do to harm our water.  I have written before about how the process can release ozone and damage pristine air quality.  When are we going to stop cutting off our nose to pad our pockets?   The time to move on and build a better world is now.