RAN’s Position On Hydrofracking

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Citizen protesting hydro fracking in NYWe have grown increasingly concerned about the prevalence of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ a technique used to mine natural gas.

We’ve watched movies like Split Estate and Gasland, which explain the serious health risks associated with fracking, and we’ve been hearing and reading about thousands of people across the US who are turning out to public meetings and hearings to say “No” to fracking in their community.

Having taken a look at the issue, we developed the following policy position:

Rainforest Action Network believes that corporations should be allowed to extract and process mineral fuels only if they can do so without harming human health or contaminating the air, water, and soil, or failing to maintain ecological integrity,  with an eye on impacts at all levels: local, regional, and global. This means achieving the following goals:

1. No water pollution: Protecting public health, the environment, and the climate from toxic, hazardous, and carcinogenic chemicals used in the extraction of fossil fuel energy resources;

2. Low emissions: Protecting public health, the environment, and the climate from pollutants emitted during the drilling and ongoing production of energy resources;

3. No-go zones: Protecting sacred areas, fragile ecosystems, high conservation and high carbon value areas, neighborhoods, drinking watersheds, and densely populated areas targeted for energy development;

4.  Landowner Consent: Continuing to develop and then implementing laws and policies that make surface and mineral estates co-equal and ensure that landowners have essential rights to negotiate, including the right to say ‘no’ to energy development.

5.  Indigenous Rights: Honoring the unique right of Indigenous Communities to free, prior, informed consent as defined in the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Consent should be sought via a process that respects the traditional decision-making structures of the community. The process should be mutually agreed upon and recorded, while also complying with and building upon any applicable laws and regulations.

We would love to hear your feedback on this policy.

3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Laughlin B. says:


    The short: I think they’re great!

    The long:

    I’m glad to see the issue of natural gas (NG) exploration becoming a more looked at issue, especially as someone who calls the Southwestern US home. Increasingly NG is eyed by many as a lower carbon alternative to other fossil fuels (even the non-environmentalist libertarian folk like Pickens), and acknowledging that NG *is* going to be extracted to help transition us off fossil fuels is forward thinking by RAN.

    As a movement, we won’t be effective covering our ears, closing our eyes, and screaming, ‘Down with ________!’ That’ll only polarize us further and get us on DHS watch lists… Actually, no. Evidently you have to watch the movie before than happens.

    Jokes aside, I’m glad to see an organization that is rooted in the belief of effective non-violent direct action step beyond the knee jerk environmentalist norm on this issue. I hope this marks the beginning of some FRACKING work by RAN, and more importantly broadening the base of our movement to include some strange bedfellows.

  2. Lloyd Scott says:

    I think RAN’s position is exactly correct and responsible for all parties concerned and the general public at large. Those tenets are reasonable and clearly make sense for responsible energy exploration, unless the object is to defraud the locals of their right to know what is going to result from their (energy company’s)production.

  3. Ellen O says:

    With respect, I wish to point out that this policy contradicts itself. You seem to say you would support fracking only if it could be done without harming human health or air, water, and soil ( which is what human health is made of ). You’d support fracking only if it could be done with no water pollution. How could this be possible? – the nature of fracking IS water pollution. It is mixing water and sand with hundreds of chemicals, many of them known to be severely toxic at very low doses (and yes, some innocuous ones like citric acid and guar gum that the industry likes to repeat, which is far from the whole story), and injecting them into the earth. Most of the water cannot be recovered ( tragic loss on a finite planet ), but some migrates through the – unpredictable – cracks in the earth and has been proven to contaminate drinking water. And there is also the issue of natural toxins and radioactivity present in shale that the fracking process brings up.

    You speak of landowner consent, yet the air pollution can travel 200 miles. Water systems are interconnected. Life is interconnected.

    I do believes that sometimes we should accept some drawbacks in order to continue to survive and find energy in ways less toxic than we have been. I of course feel that we need to be using much less energy in the first place. I also see pros and cons of solar, wind, and biofuels, and think that with mindfulness as to how these things are done ( mindful choices of where to build solar and wind, biofuels grown with permaculture techniques-not cutting down rainforests to grow ethanol or substituting food for fuel ), these things should be looked at with a critical but open eye as part of the solutions.

    Fracking is a whole other level – it is not at all renewable, clean, natural, or alternative. It is inherently poisonous to the elements that keep us alive, it is – literally – rape of the earth and chemical rape of those who drink the water and breathe the air, as well as eat food grown nearby drilling sites, which are entrenching on more and more of this country and world. It is maddening, yet completely understandable that the gas industry’s propaganda and clever PR and front groups has led to Obama and others calling shale gas a “clean energy”. It is more tragic when environmental groups call for anything less than a total permanent ban on fracking. These memes of “clean” and “natural” are infectious, but as environmental activists, it’s our job to debunk them and spread the truth.

    Yes, gas does burn cleaner at the tailpipe, I’m not disputing that. But the story of how the gas gets from deep in the earth to the point of use is a long, horrific, and inherently poisonous story, affecting climate as well as the building blocks of life – air, water, and farmland.

    I hope RAN can take the position of our allies at Food and Water Watch and many other groups defending the earth and call for a permanent ban on fracking. (I believe that FWW did not begin with that position, it was only after extensive study that they solidified their call for a ban.) It fragments our struggle when we don’t say in the same breath that we must get off of the toxic CONG of coal, oil, nuclear, and gas and transition to true renewables. I understand that local movements with only so much energy and time focus mainly on the issues confronting their homes, but as a group with a national / international voice, please, speak of fracking / shale drilling with the same criticisms that you speak of coal mining and oil drilling, so we can be one strong united voice for conservation and true renewables.

    Thank you …

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