Wednesday, 10 December 2014 00:00

Congressman Mark Pocan Introduces Bill to Ban Fracking on Public Lands

Written by  Alex Nguyen | Food and Water Watch

Representatives Pocan and Schakowsky Take the Strongest Federal Action to Date Against Fracking in the U.S

Today, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (WI-02) introduced a bill to ban fracking for oil and gas on federally owned, public lands with Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09). This is the strongest federal bill against fracking introduced in Congress to date. Along with the introduction of the bill, Food & Water Watch released the results of a national poll conducted by Lake Research Partners, which finds that 48 percent of Americans oppose fracking on public lands, while only 41 percent support it. This is consistent with a Pew Research Center poll released earlier this month that found the percentage of Americans who support increased fracking overall at 41 percent, down from 52 percent in 2012.

Drilling and fracking comes with many problems, including water contamination, air pollution, earthquakes and massive amounts of methane leakage – something that could have catastrophic impacts on the climate. Workers on fracking sites are also subject to accidents, exposure to toxic chemicals and terrible working conditions. These issues are largely impossible to regulate, as evidenced by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which found that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to inspect more than half of the specified “high priority” wells, which required more attention to prevent water and environmental contamination, drilled from 2009 through 2012.

“Federal lands should be preserved for the public good,” said Representative Mark Pocan. “There are serious safety concerns around fracking and it should not be allowed on our pristine public lands specifically set aside for conservation.  As we learn more about fracking’s impact on the environment and people living near fracking wells, one thing is clear, the process can be harmful and the effects are not fully understood. We should not allow short-term economic gain to harm our environment and endanger workers.”

“I share Rep. Pocan’s serious concern about hydraulic fracturing, which has been shown to contaminate water sources, increase methane emissions, and even to cause earthquakes," said Representative Jan Schakowsky. We owe it to our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, to ensure the protection of public lands. This bill – in banning fracking on those lands – helps us follow through on that important promise.”

Right now, about 90 percent of federally managed lands are available for oil and gas leasing, while only 10 percent are reserved for conservation, recreation, wildlife and cultural heritage. Oil and gas companies already have leased over 36 million acres of public land and have formally expressed an interest in targeting 12 million more acres of public land including areas within national forests and land adjoining national parks.

“The inherently dangerous nature of fracking means that no set of regulations can prevent accidents from happening that impact public health and natural resources,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “In light of the dismal track record that the oil and gas industry has on protecting the environment, the only way that public lands can be protected is by banning fracking. We applaud Congressman Mark Pocan for exhibiting leadership by standing up to protect our public lands for future generations to enjoy.”

In 2013, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed updated rules to regulate fracking on public lands. These rules have now reached the Office of Management and Budget – the last step before they will be finalized. The comment period for these rules generated more than one million public comments, including more than 650,000 comments in support of a ban on fracking on public lands.

"Progressive Democrats of America expresses our deep appreciation to Representative Pocan for his leadership on this important issue,” said Conor Boylan and Andrea Miller, Co-Executive Directors of the Progressive Democrats of America. “We wholeheartedly support his legislation to protect public lands from exploitation, degradation, and eventual destruction. We hope this courageous effort will culminate in strong protections, joining landmark environmental legislation like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts."

This bill is introduced with broad support from the grassroots advocacy, climate, and health movements. Burning the oil from drilling and fracking on federal lands alone amounts to about 20 million tons of carbon dioxide. Burning all of the natural gas extracted from federal lands would add about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide to that number. When accounting for methane leaks, that adds up to at least several hundred million tons more of “carbon dioxide equivalent” emissions.

“The science is clear that to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the majority of the world’s fossil fuels have to stay in the ground. There is no better place to start than with America’s public lands. The public owns the lands and owns the carbon,” said Randi Spivak, Public Lands Director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“We commend Rep. Pocan for introducing the Protect Our Public Lands Act,” said Karen Higgins, RN, co-president of National Nurses United.  “Nurses understand the dangers to public health of pumping dangerous chemicals into our water supply. Fracking has been linked to miscarriages, infertility and birth defects. Congress should act immediately to ban fracking on federal lands.”

 This bill comes before the finalization of the BLM’s proposed fracking rules, expected early in 2015.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Read 2040 times Last modified on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 22:46

Latest Economic and Social Justice News

  • How Texas could give up on its DREAM

    Is this check-mate? With Gov.-elect Greg Abbott poised to take over the governor’s mansion in the Lone Star State later this month, the Texas legislature will be in prime position to attack and ultimately dismantle one of the state’s most successful pro-immigrant initiatives on the books: the Texas DREAM Act.

    Read More
  • Amid Time of Soaring Inequality, Rich Say: The Poor Have It Easy

    Oxfam International's Winnie Byanyima says political leaders will ignore inequality at their own peril. According to the nation's richest people, the poor have it easy. Fifty-four percent of survey respondents categorized as the most financially secure said "poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without

    Read More
  • Yep, That's Right... "Free": Obama Plan Would Cover Community College Tuition

    Proposal put forth by White House would see federal and state governments pay for two years of college for all those able to maintain 2.5 GPA A new proposal unveiled by President Obama would make two years of a community college education "free" for all those who maintain a certain

    Read More
  • Icy Cold and Cut Services Create Dangerous Perfect Storm for Homeless

    With number of people without permament housing rising nationwide and services for them falling, near-zero temperatures put thousands at severe risk As record-breaking cold weather sweeps across the nation this week, reports from around the nation show how the U.S. homeless population—which has risen dramatically in recent years—are being hit the hardest in the

    Read More
  • In Wake of Charlie Hebdo Attack, Let’s Not Sacrifice Even More Rights

    EFF is stunned and deeply saddened by the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper. As free speech advocates, we mourn the use of violence against individuals who used creativity and free expression to engage in cultural and political criticism. Murder is the ultimate form of censorship.

    Read More
  • The Right Tries (and Fails) to Justify Its Assault on Social Security

    How does the right justify the kind of action Congress took this week, when it moved to cut disability benefits for millions of people by 20 percent? Answer #1: With buzzwords and rhetorical dodges. Answer #2: Not very well. For details on the House’s action, we pointed yesterday to a number of

    Read More
  • As Top Democrats Embrace a Robin Hood Tax, It’s Time for Activists to Go Big

    Americans who are serious about addressing income inequality have long recognized that the United States needs a Robin Hood Tax—a charge on financial transactions proposed by campaigners who have argued since the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 that “banks, hedge funds and the rest of the financial sector should pay their

    Read More
  • As France Mourns for Charlie Hebdo, Calls For Unity and Understanding

    'If this attack is allowed to feed discrimination and prejudice, it will be playing straight into the hands of extremists whose clear aim is to divide religions and societies.' As people across France and around the world mourn the death of the twelve people killed at the offices of the

    Read More
  • 'Hostage-Takers': Republicans Go After Social Security on Very First Day

    Advocacy groups vow to fight back against what they believe is a preliminary "stealth attack" that portends a wider assault on a program that makes survival possible for millions of vulnerable Americans As Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik immediately remarked: "Well, that didn't take long."  

    Read More
  • GOP Rule Change in Congress Signals New Dawn for 'Voodoo Economics'

    'Few economic theories have been as thoroughly tested in the real world as supply-side economics, and so notoriously failed.' A seemingly arcane rule change passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday night signals that a new wave of tax cuts for the wealthy and what has long been criticized

    Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Featured News

  • #SOTU2015 #DemandERA White House Phone Blast +

    Please join us in supporting our President's bold agenda and in reminding him to "REMEMBER THE WOMEN" in his #SOTU address by vigorously supporting the movement Read More
  • How Texas could give up on its DREAM +

    Is this check-mate? With Gov.-elect Greg Abbott poised to take over the governor’s mansion in the Lone Star State later Read More
  • Russia Blamed, US Taxpayers on the Hook, as Fracking Boom Collapses +

    As Congress removes restrictions on taxpayers bailing out the too-big-to-fail banks, the right is blaming environmentalists and Russia for the Read More
  • TPP Media March +

    Join our TPP Twitter Storm. Everyone with a Twitter account can participate. The Twitter storm begins on Tuesday at 9pm Read More
  • Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists +

    Humans are “eating away at our own life support systems” at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years by Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30

ESJ Calls

Featured Economic and Social Justice News

  • How Texas could give up on its DREAM +

    Is this check-mate? With Gov.-elect Greg Abbott poised to take over the governor’s mansion in the Lone Star State later Read More
  • Amid Time of Soaring Inequality, Rich Say: The Poor Have It Easy +

    Oxfam International's Winnie Byanyima says political leaders will ignore inequality at their own peril. According to the nation's richest people, Read More
  • Yep, That's Right... "Free": Obama Plan Would Cover Community College Tuition +

    Proposal put forth by White House would see federal and state governments pay for two years of college for all Read More
  • As Top Democrats Embrace a Robin Hood Tax, It’s Time for Activists to Go Big +

    Americans who are serious about addressing income inequality have long recognized that the United States needs a Robin Hood Tax—a charge Read More
  • 'Hostage-Takers': Republicans Go After Social Security on Very First Day +

    Advocacy groups vow to fight back against what they believe is a preliminary "stealth attack" that portends a wider assault Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Does Your Legislator Support the ERA

 

ERAMap