The Unist’ot’en Camp, an indigenous-led pipeline blockade in remote, mountainous central British Columbia, is permeated with the savory smell of bear poutine pizza — shredded bear meat, homemade French fries, green onions, and cheese on a scratch whole wheat crust. Ambrose Williams, a member of the nearby Gitxsan nation, is cooking dinner tonight for his partner Erin’s birthday. Because it’s a special occasion, someone has ventured down into the work-in-progress root cellar to excavate a jar of spicy dill pickles made from cucumbers grown in the camp garden.
Let’s amend the famous line from Joni Mitchell’s “Yellow Taxi” to fit this moment in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. There, Big Energy seems determined to turn paradise, if not into a parking lot, then into a massive storage area for fracked natural gas. But there’s one way in which that song doesn’t quite match reality.
"Across Ohio, fracking is expanding at a frenzied pace, into our backyards and farmlands, next door to our hospitals and schools, and into the pristine and wild acres that provide drinking water and recreational opportunities for Ohioans."
So says a letter sent by more than 100 elected officials from communities across the state to Ohio Gov. John Kasich this week, urging him "to stand up for the right of all communities to determine whether, where, and how this dirty drilling is conducted within their own borders."
For years, environmental philosophy professor Adam Briggle has opened his ethics classes at the University of North Texas in Denton with writings on nonviolent civil disobedience, usually Henry David Thoreau's classic essay "Resistance to Civil Government." But Briggle has never before engaged in such an action himself - until now.
The fracking boom has transformed vast parts of Texas, pumping money into local economies while raising fears about groundwater and air pollution. The boom has caused increased crime and truck traffic, and has likely spawned earthquakes. But the oil and gas bonanza has also brought more subtle, but no less significant, social changes. In this occasional series, Fractured State, we will examine how the oil economy has fractured families, communities and towns.
During a recent hike in Washington State's Olympic National Park, I marveled at the delicate geometry of frost-covered ferns. White crystalline structures seemed to grow from the green leaves, encasing them in a frozen frame of temporary beauty.
Progressing further up into the mountains, I stopped to lunch and sip hot coffee from a thermos while gazing across a river valley at a snow-covered mountainside, sizing up a frozen waterfall for a possible ice climb in the future. Yet I found myself beginning to wonder how many more winters ice would continue to form there.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made headlines at the end of last year when he announced a ban on hydraulic fracking in his state. That was unquestionably a victory for environmentalists, but in neighboring Pennsylvania, however, fracking is still underway. This summer, I visited the northeastern region of the Keystone State to see what the the front lines of America's shale gas boom looks like.