Industry Consultants Warn Frackers: Do Not Underestimate the Global Anti-Fracking Movement
By Mike Ludwig
On July 28, more than 5,000 people from all over the U.S., and various parts of the world including Australia, united on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol demanding Congress take immediate action to stop fracking. Photo by Stefanie Spear
The bitter battle over fracking has gone global, and according to pro-business consultants, the oil and gas industry has every reason to be concerned.
Oil and gas rigs are popping up in communities across the world as the fossil fuels industry races to exploit reserves with the controversial drilling technique known as fracking. In response, a global anti-fracking movement has emerged, and activists are winning victories in countries across world.
A report recently released by the international consulting group Control Risks warns the oil and gas industry that it has underestimated the "sophistication, reach and influence" of the global anti-fracking movement. The report contends the opposition is not simply a spotty, not-in-my-backyard phenomenon "masquerading as environmentalism," but a diverse and well-organized coalition that is unlikely to be swayed by the industry's well-funded public relation campaigns.
The report's findings may come as no surprise to activists. The grassroots anti-fracking movement spread "organically" across the world as drilling continued to expand and spark controversy in new areas, according to the Control Risks report. Online social networking, rising media coverage and widespread distribution of Josh Fox's controversial 2010 documentary Gasland has stimulated the movement, and now there are hundreds of anti-fracking groups in the U.S., Canada, Australia and countries across Africa and Europe.
Fracking Unites Activists and Communities
The global anti-fracking movement may be grassroots in nature, but communities and activists across the world share the same concerns about the "significant" impacts of fracking, according to Mark Schlosberg, an anti-fracking organizer with the U.S.-based group Food & Water Watch.
Environmentalists and drilling opponents say fracking threatens to drain and contaminate local water supplies, cause air pollution, industrialize pristine rural areas and contribute to global warming.
"The issues people are facing in different parts of the world are the [same] issues that people are facing in the U.S.," Schlosberg said.
Schlosberg said fracking directly affects those living near the rigs, but climate change and dependence on fossil fuels affects everyone. Recent studies that fracking operations can release considerable amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas, and concerns over global warming have united climate change activists with the global anti-fracking movement.
In many parts of the world, activists also are pushing the industry to invest locally and provide better economic compensation to the communities where drilling is taking place, according to the Control Risks report.
Global Activism Puts Fracking at Risk
The most significant "risk" posed by the anti-fracking movement is bans and moratoriums on drilling, according to Control Risks.
In France, fracking was banned indefinitely in 2011 after significant public outcry, and the French government reaffirmed the ban in September 2012.
Food & Water Watch, which supports a national ban on fracking in the U.S., has tracked 308 local measures to address fracking in municipalities across the nation. Some communities banned fracking altogether, while others put limits on fracking activity or symbolically endorsed statewide bans.
Public outcry also has pushed some governments to conduct safety reviews of fracking that could pave the way for tighter regulations.
Under orders from Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently conducting a study on fracking and its potential impacts on water supplies. The agency recently released a progress report, but a final report will not be released until 2014. Meanwhile, fracking is rapidly expanding across much of the U.S. with little federal regulatory oversight.
The industry also should be wary of radical and direct action activists, according to Control Risks. Activists have peacefully blockaded fracking sites in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Poland as direct action-oriented environmental groups like Earth First! rally opposition to fracking. Isolated acts of minor vandalism and sabotage to drilling equipment also have been reported in the U.S. and Poland.
"They would not have commissioned this report if they didn't think the anti-fracking movement was effective," Schlosberg said.
Control Risks spokesman Chris Levy told Truthout the company released the report to attract the fracking industry to its consulting services. The firm helps companies and large industries manage "hostile environments" and threats to international business ranging from anti-corruption investigations to anti-industry activism, kidnappings, maritime piracy and even terrorism, according to the firm's website.
Steve Everley, a spokesman for Energy In Depth, a U.S.-based information service created and funded by oil and gas industry groups, said the Control Risks report accepts that fracking can be done safely, and he is not convinced that the anti-fracking movement has been successful in stopping drilling with "false claims and manufactured science."
"As for the supposed successes that opponents have had, I think they're pretty much limited to headlines and maybe an uptick in their fundraising efforts, because they really haven't stopped the industry from drilling wells," said Everley, who added that fracking is creating jobs across the country and expanding domestic energy production.
Schlosberg, however, said the report demonstrates what activists already know—the global anti-fracking movement is a threat, and the industry will continue to ramp up its tactics to "ram this through."
The Control Risks report advises the industry to quell the opposition by reforming its practices. Instead of flatly denying any wrongdoing and accusing reported fracking victims of spreading "fear" and "hysteria," fracking companies should acknowledge the negative impacts of drilling and the grievances of those impacted, like residents who believe their water supplies have been contaminated. Frackers also should put more resources toward protecting the environment and disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground during drilling, the report said. Activists in the U.S. have fought for such disclosure for years.
Control Risks also suggests that simply telling the public that drilling will lower energy prices is not enough to gain support, and the industry should "create more winners" in the communities where fracking occurs. Drilling firms should invest in communities by buying local supplies, hiring and training local workers and paying all required taxes. Most crucially, drillers should make long-term local investments to ensure sustained economic benefits to communities, even after drilling is complete.
Schlosberg, however, said environmentalists and anti-fracking activists want long-term solutions to the world's dependence on fossil fuels, not simple reforms offered by an already wealthy industry. Activists, he said, must remain "very vigilant, mobilized and organized" as the industry wakes up to the reality of the global anti-fracking movement.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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