The Wall Street Journal recently reported that 1 in 20 Americans live within a mile of a fracking site. That means more people than ever before have drill pads, toxic wastewater pits, and heavy truck traffic coming into their backyards and communities. These industrial operations make difficult neighbors, and people are pushing back. On Election Day, voters in Fort Collins and two other Colorado cities passed measures against fracking.
There are safer, cleaner ways to power our communities. We can protect our health and curb climate change by moving beyond fossil fuels. The U.S. has the resources and ingenuity to reach 100 percent clean energy, and NRDC is committed to reaching that goal as soon as possible.
The most abundant energy supply we have is efficiency—the art of doing more using less. NRDC has made efficiency the centerpiece of our energy strategy for four decades, and the focus has paid off. Efficiency contributed more to meeting growing energy needs in the last 40 years than oil, gas, and nuclear combined. NRDC also works to expand renewable power, and we are making great progress. Over the past four years or so new wind projects accounted for 35 percent of all new power generation capacity built in the U.S. and 120,000 Americans have jobs in the solar industry.
The clean energy future is getting closer. As we work to get there, NRDC also fights to protect people from reckless fossil fuel development—including the fracking operations running roughshod over our communities.
Everywhere I travel, people share their frustration and anxiety about unfettered fracking. From Pennsylvania to California, North Carolina to Colorado, residents wonder what fracking could do to their air and water, farms and ranches. They worry about their communities turning into industrial waste zones. And they fear for their health and the health of their children.
Yet they feel they have nowhere to turn for help. State and federal standards are weak and enforcement is grossly inadequate. Homeowners live with towering drill rigs and toxic waste impoundments in their backyards. When the air starts to smell of noxious chemicals or the impoundment leaks or the vibration from compressors begins to shake their houses, people have little recourse. Many communities have been abandoned by those charged with holding companies accountable and protecting residents from harm. It’s an outrage, and it must stop.
NRDC is at the forefront of the battle to keep people safe from the perils of fracking. Where possible, we support moratoria so that the risks can be more fully evaluated before decisions about moving forward with fracking are made. We fought for—and helped win—a moratorium on fracking in New York State, and we have advocated for moratoria in Illinois and California. We also fight to protect people who already have frack pads in their yards, who already worry about water contamination, who already lost control of their property because a gas company owned the mineral rights.
People living on the frontlines of fracking need assistance now; they can’t wait until we achieve the clean energy future. That’s why NRDC fights for tough safeguards to rein in polluters, and we created the Community Fracking Defense Project to help give towns and local governments the tools they need to protect themselves from fracking when their state and federal governments have not.
Our work defending communities from the ravages of fracking is critical, but we never lose sight of our ultimate goal: moving America beyond all fossil fuels as rapidly as possible. This is the path that will lead to cleaner air and water, better health, a more stable climate, and sustainable prosperity for future generations.