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Celebrities Ask 'What the Frack?'

Fracking
Celebrities Ask 'What the Frack?'

Today, celebrities and environmental advocates—including Malin Akerman, Lance Bass, Julie Bowen, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Darren Criss, Daryl Hannah, Hayden Panettiere, Amy Smart, Marisa Tomei, Wilmer Valderrama, Constance Zimmer and others—are featured in a series of new videos, which aim to educate Americans about the dangers that fracking poses to the nation, and to put pressure on government officials to move to a renewable energy economy instead.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a highly controversial process for extracting oil and gas that, along with related drilling, wastewater disposal and other extreme extraction methods like acidizing, has raised serious environmental and public health concerns across the country.

Below, celebrities ask Gov. Brown (D-CA): What the frack?

Produced by Appeal to Reason for Americans Against Fracking, the Environmental Media Association, Food & Water Watch and Environment America, these celebrity videos are part of a series calling out leading Democratic governors in Colorado, California and New York, as well as President Obama, by highlighting some of the facts that make fracking inherently unsafe. 

“With recent measures to curb fracking approved by voters in Ohio and Colorado earlier this month, the public continues to reject fracking, and we’re proud to stand with some of our favorite actors to take a stand against this toxic, senseless practice,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.

“To date, nearly 400 communities in the United States have taken action against fracking, and that number will only grow as more and more people realize we need to curb global warming by lighting our futures with clean, truly renewable energy resources,” Hauter concluded. 

“Fracking is a dirty form of oil drilling that pollutes our air and our oceans,” added Golden Globe-nominated actress and environmentalist Hayden Panettiere. “It’s time to move to clean renewable energy. We need to stop fracking now!”

Below, celebrities ask Gov. Hickenlooper (D-CO): What the frack?

Across the country, the more Americans know about fracking—the facts, science and harsh water and public health impacts—the more they oppose it. This fact is clear in recent polls, such as a current Pew Research Group poll that found opposition to fracking has grown significantly across most regions and  demographic groups over the past six months. 

Nationally, 49 percent oppose increased fracking, while 44 percent support it. In California, a recent poll showed 53-32 percent oppose fracking. In New York, the latest poll showed voters oppose fracking 43-38 percent. In Pennsylvania, about two-thirds of residents support a moratorium due to serious health concerns.

Earlier this year, President Obama articulated the importance of addressing global climate change in his Climate Action Plan. But he mistakenly failed to acknowledge the true climate impacts of drilling and fracking for oil and gas, which will only make the problem worse. Methane, the primary constituent of fracked gas, is a particularly potent greenhouse gas. According to the latest measurements from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), methane is 34 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 100 year time-frame, and 86 times more damaging over a 20 year time-frame. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has found that the rate of methane leakage in at least two active gas fields is much higher than the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory’s current estimate, indicating how disastrous fracking can be for the climate.

Below, celebrities ask Gov. Cuomo (D-NY): What the frack?

Additionally, when burned, fracked gas produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide. In fact, even if methane leaks could be minimized to about one percent of what is produced, the International Energy Agency has estimated that a scenario of increased global dependence on fracked gas would lead to an increase in the global average temperature by 3.5 degrees Celsius, or by about 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit, by 2035.

In response to the science and increasing harms of fracking, public action in opposition to fracking is increasing. In August, a million Americans signed petitions objecting to the Obama Administration’s plans to frack on federal lands. Nearly 650,000 of those petitions—collected by Americans Against Fracking member organizations—called for a complete ban.

Weeks later, Food & Water Watch, MoveOn.org, Environmental Action, and other organizations in Americans Against Fracking and the Stop the Frack Attack network delivered more than 250,000 petitions asking the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to reopen investigations into the potential link between fracking and water contamination in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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