SchwartzReport: Grass-Roots Anti-Fracking

03 Economy, 05 Energy, Civil Society, Commerce, Cultural Intelligence, Earth Intelligence, Ethics
Stephan A. Schwartz
Stephan A. Schwartz

Here is a wonderful story of how a single couple has been able to take on a destructive industry and win.

The Real Secret to Beating the Koch Brothers: How Our Broken Political System Can Still be Won
LINDSAY ABRAMS, Assistant Editor – Salon

You probably haven’t heard of Helen Slottje, or, for that matter, of her husband, David. But in the past few years, the former corporate lawyers have become arguably two of the most powerful opponents of fracking in New York – not to mention the most successful. As the (sort of) public face of the duo’s efforts, Helen Slottje on Monday was honored with the Goldman Prize, the world’s largest environmental prize.

Like most fracktivists, the Slottjes became embroiled in the issue when they moved to an area targeted by drilling companies – in their case, upstate New York, which sits atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, and where Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly put off making a decision about whether to lift the state’s five-year moratorium on hydraulic hydrofracking. Lacking confidence in the power of the picket sign or citizen engagement on oil-funded big government, they instead decided to approach the program at the most basic level. Their weapon of choice is a principle known as home rule: If individual communities decide that these industries pose a significant risk to common resources like air and water, then those communities can decide to keep those industries out, regardless of what state and federal laws say.

One by one, the Slottjes have helped small towns in New York enact such bans, to the point at which, even if New York’s moratorium were to be lifted tomorrow, the oil and gas industry would find itself effectively barred from drilling in 172 communities. After being decided in the towns’ favors at all of the state’s lower courts, two of those cases, in Dryden and Middlefield, are now up before the Court of Appeals. A decision, which will determine whether towns have the right to override state law, is expected this fall, and its anticipated impact can’t be overstated. As Thomas West, a lawyer for the energy company seeking to have the ban overturned, told the New York Times last year, ‘It’s going to decide the future of the oil and gas industry in the state of New York.” (The Slottjes, it should be noted, weren’t even mentioned in the piece.)

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Phi Beta Iota: US Courts are now completely corrupt at the Supreme Court level courtesy of Justice Powell and the US Chamber of Commerce. Some Appeals Courts remain honest, we pray that New York is one of them. Ultimately a decision against the townships is anticipated because the US Government as a whole has completely sold out across all three branches of government and no longer represents the public interest in matters of substance. The taking of the commons and the criminalization of what used to be common rights of refusal at the local level is ably explained in Peter Linebaugh, STOP, THIEF!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (PM Press, 2014) Fracking is demonstrably insane, criminally so, both creating earthquakes and contaminating ground water.

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Fracking @ Phi Beta Iota