There's no denying that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas produces hazardous byproducts. The Natural Gas industry has poured dark money into our political process to keep their activities unregulated and without environmental oversight. Fortunately, environmental protection groups are taking action, demanding Democrats must unite and ban the practice, as Republicans certainly won't act.
A coalition of climate and environmental justice groups delivered over 90,000 petitions to the Democratic National Committee demanding that a ban on fracking be included in the party platform.
“The Democratic Party has been complicit in the U.S. fracking boom which is poisoning communities and our climate,” said Emily Wurth, Water Program Director for Food & Water Watch. “Any serious plan to combat climate change must include a ban on fracking, and as the committee develops the platform, they should heed the calls of the growing movement to ban fracking and keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
Bernie Sanders, to his credit, was the only candidate who was vehemently against fracking. It is also true that the sentient beings on the Left would like to see Secretary Clinton pursue a ban on fracking. The formidable number of petitioners will hopefully force party leaders to include an anti-fracking policy in the 2016 DNC Platform.
As the DNC convened in Washington, D.C. for its open forum on shaping the platform, activists with *Food & Water Watch, 350.org, Honor the Earth, and other groups handed over the appeals and said officials must acknowledge the harm that fracking has caused the environment.
The groups* noted that more than 137,000 fracking wells have been opened in the U.S. since 2005 as part of President Barack Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy policy that included promoting the use of natural gas. By contrast, the 2016 presidential election has seen candidates backing away from the fossil fuel industry, with Bernie Sanders standing out for his support of a nationwide ban on fracking.
And as Environmental Action policy director Anthony Rogers-Wright explained, the majority of people that now find themselves in proximity of a fracking well are in communities of color—who largely vote Democratic.
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"This is the face of fracking in America: Latino, Native, African American and other communities are disproportionately impacted by the toxic effects of fracking and its infrastructure," Rogers-Wright said. "It's time for the DNC, a political party that is totally dependent on the participation of People of Color, to show that our health is as important as our votes. Including a fracking ban in the party platform is an essential step to demonstrate this."
Wealthy White communities with the ear of their legislators find a way to ban fracking in their communities based on environmental concerns. Why not the rest of America? While the number of Americans employed by the natural gas industry (often good paying union jobs) as well as our addiction to cheap fuel, may hamper attempts to ban fracking altogether, this is the proper stand to take if we are ever to reach consensus that at the very least, fracking must be regulated far more than it is. A call to ban the practice is the right place to start.