The anti-fracking movement is solidifying its foundation in grassroots organization’s loosely knit groups of concerned citizens. Quiet bands of citizens are coming together to protect their regions from shale gas exploitation. International corporations are licking their chops just thinking about releasing the profit potential hidden under the Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches from New York to Ohio to West Virginia.
There are ongoing online strategy sessions being held on websites like ShaleShock.org and FaceBook pages, like “paddlers OPPOSING fracking,” aimed at winning popular support and legal battles. Folks are gathering in Town Halls, in chat rooms, and in basements. People all around the nation who fear for the safety of their water and farmland are finding creative ways to continue the conversation and organize.
These small, decentralized regional groups are educating their neighbors and their local leaders about the toxicity of the natural gas industry. They understand that the amount of energy and water used to break the shale and release the gas is too costly to make any logical sense. And when their city councils and mayors refuse to listen, these ordinary members of our communities are stepping up and taking part in the democratic process, running for office themselves.
New York is suddenly the focus of the anti-fracking movement because its citizens continue to fight at the local level. Their actions could be considered a primer on engaged citizenry and democratic participation, inspired by the threat of environmental catastrophe. The impact that fracking has on these communities is so direct that neighbors cannot ignore it; it is about the survival of the land and our communities. It is about the future of our people.
And those of us who debate strategy and mobilization efforts, online, need to take notes on New York (whose efforts are focusing on zoning ordinances). This movement relies on self-education as much as it relies on grassroots organizing. It is an exercise in environmental and legal experiential education.
We need not be corporate lawyers or scientists. We are capable of learning the information necessary to protect our health, our families, and our land. Each county, each state is a different battleground with unique terrain, rules, and players. Our local movements inspire fracktivists nationwide, and it is this momentum, this sharing of knowledge and techniques, that will continue to sustain the movement.