The State of Ohio launched a PR campaign against us, and they’re losing.

ODNR & Opposition

This morning the Sierra Club revealed what community activists, clean water advocates and Ohio Fracktion have been saying for years: the Ohio Department of Natural Resources really works to facilitate, not regulate, fracking for big industry.

Read EcoWatch article

A recent public records request by the Sierra Club turned up a evidence of a program hatched between the supposed regulators at ODNR and the industry they not-so-secretly promote. Their main objective this time was to pave the way for ceding mineral rights from the state parks to industry to engage in the experimental and danger-ridden fracking of shale.  However, one thing stood in their way: the public’s concern for their safe drinking water.  The solution: launch a secret PR campaign with leading industry groups to mislead the public about the dangers of fracking and marginalize Ohio Fracktion and other advocacy groups.  Read the full memo here.

The blatant abuse of ODNR’s public resources and influence to do industry PR is insulting.  It shows what we have learned the hard way – that ODNR takes the job of increasing industry profits more seriously than preventing activity that threatens our land, water and people.  It shows that they see a world of allies in big business and enemies in those who are fighting for democratic control and safe drinking water. ODNR sees their duties within a world divided between allies and enemies along these strict corporate lines.

The document presents us with neat lists of each: the administration, big business, and drilling companies fall into the allies category, and the citizens ODNR is bound to protect into the the “opponents” and “adversaries”. Top of the “allies” listed are Governor Kasich, JobsOhio, the Ohio EPA, and other such allies as the US Chamber of Commerce, The Ohio Oil and Gas Association, and Halliburton.  In with the “adversaries” competing for the top prize with the Sierra Club and Bob Hagan were yours truly, Ohio Fracktion. Those with concerns of their drinking water are the “neutrals” whose only role is to be moved (not listened to or partnered with) as passive objects of ODNR administration.

odnr iconopposition groups

To be listed as one of their top “opposition groups” is a high honor we as Ohio Fracktion gladly accept. Our work as a collective of organizers and residents started on the belief that clean water and democratic control are human rights that no industry can take away and that no one deserves to be poisoned or have their land taken for another’s profit. As the ODNR has used its ‘regulation’ as a cart-blanch for drilling and treated anyone in the industry’s way as expendable, we’re not surprised they have named us as enemies – in fact, we’re honored they did.  ODNR’s lack of respect for the public was made abundantly clear when members of our group were arrested for attempting to peacefully enter their public office during business hours in order to set up meetings for residents whose water was contaminated by next-door drilling. And so while bailing our friends out of jail we learned the hard way that attempting to negotiating with bought and paid for regulators was as effective as pushing a boulder up a hill over and over and over and over again.

This documents sheds light on the extent to which ODNR is a tool to promote drilling, reaching heights of absurdity.  They hide behind ridiculously false claims to be able to magically “allow no negative impact on park or forest lands” and to “have some of the nation’s strictest safeguards in place to make sure there is no danger to public health or the environment”  No danger?  No negative impact? To protect such blatant falsehoods the PR campaign laid plans for Orwellian “truth squads” to bury alarming information with letters to the editor, news releases, and letters to supporters to confront those on the ‘opponents’ list.  The sad irony is that memo focuses on strengthening industry messaging rather than providing any details of how they will protect parks from disturbance or prevent exposure of neighbors and visitors from toxins. They plan for public meetings to change public opinion, but not to work with resident with open minds.

However, in places the authors are remarkably perceptive.  They list that opponents will communicate “aggressively to the news media and online to cast this initiative as ‘risky and radical,’  and that we will attempt to “legally and physically halt the drilling.”  We will “create public panic [awareness] about perceived [experienced] health risks.”  The reason why these tactics are their greatest concern is THAT THEY WORK: when we fight back we win.  Through legal battles, civil disobedience, and public education that leads to reclaiming of democratic control, small and large groups across Ohio are providing effective resistance to this social and environmental devastation.

If there is something to learned from these documents it’s that when our state regulators at the ODNR are willing collaborators in the attack on our lives Ohioans will continue to have no option but to place our bodies on the line to protect the places and people we care about.  And as catastrophe after catastrophe pile up on ODNR’s watch, they have become their own worst enemy to persuading the public that they act in good faith on our behalf. They launched a fancy PR war against us to promote drilling, but we’re winning.

Having no faith in the ODNR for their repeated and criminal abuse of public trust and good faith:

  • We demand that the ODNR be brought under Federal investigation for other evidence of criminal practice.
  • We demand that all permits for oil and gas related activities be halted pending an independent review made up of a commission including leading environmental advocates and citizen groups impacted by drilling permits.
  • We demand the resignation of ODNR officials who allowed public resources to be used for corporate advocacy public relations.

We won’t stop until they do.  No Drilling.  No Compromise.
-Ohio Fracktion

Ohio Fracktion: Where We Stand Today

Ohio Fracktion was created as one of the first cries of alarm and lines of resistance to the increasing activity of the fracking industry in Northeast Ohio. In 2011 we were facing evidence of destruction on countless fronts from poisoned groundwater to explosions and earthquakes, and we had no illusions about the obstruction and the complicity of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It was painfully obvious that the Fracking Industry was destructive on every level: taking advantage of fleeting corporate gains with no regard for the people who live in our state. We were witnessing an extraction practice so destructive that it could never be done safely and saw that the industry clearly had more interest in making money than protecting the safety of residents, workers and the land.

Appalachia Resist

Appalachia Resist! shuts down injection well using nonviolent direct action

In response we launched Ohio Fracktion as a Non-Violent Direct Action Campaign to take back control from the industry and demand our rights to clean water and democratic control. We kicked off our public début with a blockade of an injection well that was causing earthquakes in Youngstown. That campaign ended with the closure of 5 toxic injection wells in the area and launched our work resisting harmful fracking infrastructure across the state. This was one of the first of many arrestable acts of nonviolent direct action to resist the fracking industry, and a new tactic of Nonviolent Direct Action became a more visible part of the movement.

It has been with tremendous satisfaction that we have stood alongside many others within the anti-fracking movement as it grows stronger and bolder. We have watched the ideas and values that form the core of Ohio Fracktion spread and amplify across channels of community resistance.

Ohio Fracktion has changed its role within the movement over the previous year (which would explain our lack of posts for a while). The courage, creativity, and skills that we’ve worked to cultivate in Ohio Fracktion have moved all of us to different parts of the work against the oil and gas industry.

action campPanel

We began doing more action camps and trainings and more work to support others creating their own campaigns of strategic and soul-full nonviolence. Today some core members have returned to finish school, some of us have become even more active in other struggles against extractive industries with such groups as Tar Sands Resistance, Marcellus Earth First, and many other groups. And a bunch of us are still around causing trouble in Ohio, not to worry.

Debrief circleOur current work includes training & facilitation, direct action support, and a micro-grant program to get funds to the front-line activists incredible work to resist the industry.

We still believe in the fundamental right of each community to decide what impacts them, and Ohio Fracktion still works to actively support those choices by offering resources to help improve their efficiency and organizational capacity.  We’re eager to help you in the struggle for mutual liberation and a liveable future.

Resources we offer:

  • Micro-grants for work and activists on the front-line of the struggle against fracking.
  • Waging Nonviolence: aka making Beautiful Trouble
  • Action Support
  • Organizational trainings
  • Creative Facilitation
  • Building Coalitions
  • More

Please contact us for more information.

Anti-Frack Microgrants! Apply Now!

Grassroots anti-fracking activists from Ohio: you are encouraged to apply for microgrants of up to $500 to help support your work!

Guidelines:

  1. Microgrant money is available to volunteer, non-professional activists only. Paid organizers need not apply.
  2. Microgrant money is reserved for low- and no-income activists who are spending their own personal money to further anti-fracking activities at significant financial burden to themselves. “Low-income” and “significant financial burden” have no set definitions and will depend on your particular circumstances. For example, if you are earning $40,000 annually and living alone, spending $200 of personal money on an anti-fracking project probably does not count as a significant financial burden; if you are earning $40,000 annually and raising three children without financial assistance from a spouse, it probably does. We will not ask you to explain or prove your financial situation, but we are trusting potential applicants to exercise their own judgment in determining whether to apply. Remember that funds are limited and that they are being made available to empower those who would otherwise be financially excluded from engaging in community anti-fracking action.
  3. Only apply for microgrant money if there are no alternative funding sources for your project(s) readily available. If you have access to financial support from sources such as larger non-profits or universities, please leave this fund accessible to those who do not.
  4. Applicants must commit to providing receipts for all purchases made with microgrant money. All unaccounted for expenditures will be taxed, leaving the microgrant fund with less money to assist other hard-working anti-frackers.
  5. Microgrant money is available for a wide range of activities including but not limited to:
  • water and/or air quality monitoring projects
  • copy costs for literature and/or documents concerning fracking
  • hosting community anti-fracking events
  • legal fees resulting from anti-fracking protests
  • transportation expenses to and from anti-fracking community events, regulatory agencies, fracking sites, etc.
  1. While microgrant money is primarily reserved for anti-frackers in Ohio, applicants from the surrounding region who are opposing hydrofracking and/or similar environmental practices may be considered on a case-by-case basis if funding is available.

To apply: Please email antifrackmicrogrants@gmail.com with your request. We will prioritize granting requests of up to $200, though you may apply for more if you wish. In your applications, be sure to include:

  • the purpose and significance of the project(s) and/or activities for which you seek funding
  • why you consider yourself eligible for this grant
  • other funding sources you have pursued
  • a detailed budget outlining your anticipated and/or past expenses for which you are seeking reimbursement
  • whether you can commit to providing receipts for all microgrant expenses

Please keep your requests under three pages at most – you won’t be penalized for submitting a very short but complete application, one page or less is fine if you include everything we need to know. You can apply as many times as you wish, though first-time applicants will be prioritized. We will do our best to quickly review applications, and microgrants will be distributed on a rolling basis. Email antifrackmicrogrants@gmail.com with any questions.

Athens County Residents in front of Ginsburg Well: SHUT IT DOWN!

Re-posted from Appalachia Resist!

11:00 AM, Monday, November 19th, 2012

A group of Athens County residents wearing hazmat style suits and respirators gathered in front of the Hazel Ginsburg Well frack-waste injection well on Ladd Ridge Road.  They demanded that the ODNR shut the well down.   The protesters held banners that read “Shut it Down, No New Permits”, “ODNR, You Have the Facts, Shut this Toxic Well Down” “Our Safety is Not for Sale”, and “Clean Drinking Water is a Human Right”. Many of the signs were emblazoned with the symbol for radioactivity.  The protest was also in solidarity with those who today are blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline in Texas. Continue reading

Croatan Earth First! takes action against fracking!

http://www.croatanearthfirst.com

As we speak, members of Croatan Earth First! and participants from our Piedmont Direct Action Camp are locked together, barricading North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) building in downtown Raleigh. Providing physical, active resistance against fracking in North Carolina, CEF! has chosen DENR for an action as they are responsible for helping legalize fracking, and will be responsible for regulating it. They have also hired a corrupt Mining Commission board, filled with gas and oil representatives. We are letting them know that this farce won’t stand! No compromise in defense of Mother Earth! Continue reading

Via Appalachia Resist: Madeline ffitch status conference

From our friends at Appalachia Resist:

To: News Media
From: Nate Ebert, Spokesperson Appalachia Resist!
RE: Madeline ffitch status conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today the status conference for Madeline ffitch, the Athens County resident who faces a fifth degree felony charge for blocking a frack-waste injection well was held at the Athens County Courthouse.  The prosecution continued to ask that Madeline be disallowed from peacefully and legally participating in any Athens County anti-fracking protest, while counsel for the defense argued that this violates the defendant’s first amendment rights.  After the conference, Madeline and her legal counsel Bob Fitrakis made statements to press and supporters.  They noted this week’s U.S geological survey study showing that the frack-waste being dumped in Ohio shows radioactivity levels over 3000 times higher than federal safety standards for drinking water. They also noted the lax standards for Class II injection well safety in Ohio.  Madeline said, “When government ignores its citizens, principled and conscientious people must act.  The dumping of toxic radioactive waste here threatens the entire population of Appalachian Ohio.  Citizens must act.  They must.  This is no less than a matter of life and death.”

Continue reading

Tell Gov. Cuomo: Don’t Frack New York

As the Summer of Solidarity continues to heat up with escalating actions against extreme resource extraction in West VirginiaMontanaTexas, and beyond, New Yorkers have taken to the frontline in the fight against fracking.  Less than two weeks after over 150 people shut down operations at Schlumberger — the world’s largest oilfield services provider — in Horseheads, NY,  a crowd of over 1,000 rallied in Albany to demand a ban to frackingClick here to read a letter to New York’s Gov. Cuomo from Elisa Young of Athens, OH.  Please consider contacting Gov. Cuomo to let him know how fracking in New York will affect your community.  Continue reading

RAMPS Mountain Mobilization Halts Largest Strip Mine in West Virginia

(via mountainjustice.org)

More than 50 protesters affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign have walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine and shut it down.  Ten people locked to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners: “Coal Leaves, Cancer Stays.”  At least three have been arrested, with another in a tree being threatened by miners with a chain saw.  Earlier in the day, two people were arrested at Kanawha State Forest before a group of protesters headed to the state capitol.

Continue reading