Home | About | Donate

How to Fight Big Oil: Join Your Neighbors


How to Fight Big Oil: Join Your Neighbors

Sarah van Gelder

The last few weeks and months have seen major victories for communities resisting oil trains, coal terminals, pipelines, and strip mines. This is big news at a time of an out-of-control climate crisis—this July and August tied as the hottest months ever recorded. Could these stories represent our best shot at taking on the giant corporations and banks that are trying to build new fossil fuel projects at a time when we need to be phasing out carbon-based fuels?


Unfortunately, Ms. Gelder's west-coast insular perspective is showing. Where I live, most of my neighbors - especially the ones in the outlying rural areas, rather like shale-fracking and coal mining, so I won't be joining them to fight it anytime soon.


Ways to Fight Big Oil:
1. Decrease YOUR Usage of Fossil Fuels and Consumer Goods.
2. Buy Local.
3. Decrease your driving.
4. Realize that the users and consumers of fossil fuel drive the demand for the supply.
Drop Demand will Decrease the Supply Needs.


Your "Shale-fracking" Neighbors may be able to learn some lessons from your Coal-Mining neighbors.


The only lesson will be that the shale fracking neighbors have caused the coal mining and coal power plant-working neighbors to get laid off - except that the coal mining neighbors believe that it is all all Obama and his "war on coal" - along with the "socialistic government subsidized 'windmill'" building neighbor's fault...


Most, although not all, well water in my area is unaffected by fracking. Those whose well water is unaffected regard those whose well water is affected as cranks.


Disconnect ~ Disconnect ~ Disconnect (three times constitutes a Mayday)

A bubble world - and writers from the bubble.

At least Leonardo De Caprio was honest when he stated recently that if the United Nations knew how he really felt on climate change they might change their mind on selecting him as an ambassador for change - he was that pessimistic.

Collapse is the only solution - which is pretty sad as this has to constitute a misuse of the word solution.

Reason and science have failed - not to make the case - but because most people are simply not up to decision making.

Morality has also failed - it's actually obscene to even use the word in a society which daily profanes its own constitution and the rule of international law.

No - collapse will work because it actually will happen - is happening as we speak I suppose - and because there is no arguing with it.


I live in the same region that Yunzer does. I composed a very long post last week that I deleted and did not post because the information/truth is just too depressing.

Living in the heart of climate denial central is... very hard to describe. There is not one political animal here from the duopoly that does not enthusiastically support coal and fracked gas. To oppose the fossil fuel industry here is political suicide. It isn't that many people here are not cognizant of climate change and the deleterious effects of resource extraction, but this region was in a state of recession long before the collapse of '08. The new gas/oil bonanza is regarded as long awaited salvation.

In my last professional gig I walked much of this tri-state region here helping to compile a private cadaster of surface and sub-surface rights and was required to talk to property owners to get their permission to be on their property. When my involvement began (through my employer) I knew next to nothing about fracking, but quickly educated myself, and I was very interested how my neighbors (all these property owners in this region) felt about this new industry. Thus, this is not hearsay, as I heard it with my own ears: the vast majority of people I talked with were not only in favor of it, but could hardly wait for it to come to their benefit. Even those I talked with who had misgivings about the effects of this new industrial activity - out-of-state gas gypsies; destruction of their local roads; noise, dust, and pollution - held the opinion that they could do nothing to stop it, and in fact either saw it as a direct benefit to themselves (through gas leases or wells on their property) or generally as a boon to the regional economy.

As for Yunzer's statement that most water wells have not been impacted by fracking I can only offer my own guess as to the long-term effects of fracking. My belief, my GUESS, is that this practice will, in the end, be revealed to be a slow motion environmental disaster. Despite the effort to limit, through horizontal boring, the number of gas wells, the saturation of this region by hundreds (thousands?) of wells means that sub-surface strata is not just fractured here and there, but over the entire region. The fracking fluid mixtures contain many highly carcinogenic chemicals that will, in my opinion, over a period of years make their way into drinking water aquifers and contaminate those sources long after our generation is a faint memory.

One area I worked extensively is also the location of at least three long-wall coal mines. Because this type of mining does in fact immediately impact drinking water aquifers, the regional authority there constructed a municipal water system. This, mind you, in a very rural area where residential occupancy is sparse and such a municipal system could hardly be expected to be cost efficient or long-term feasible. That area is now being fracked extensively, and what the effects are on the groundwater are consequently unnoticed because of the municipal water supply (in fact, the most noticeable effect is when local residents are asked to practice water conservation because unbeknownst to them their city fathers sold the bulk of their municipal supply to frackers.) However, many residents there still farm and I heard from many there that the wells they relied upon for their livestock had failed or became fouled beyond continued use. Because of the combination of long-wall mining and fracking it would be very difficult to point to one or the other as the responsible culprit.

The Dunkard Creek impoundment, a flood control structure feeding into Wheeling Creek was an area I mapped almost single-handedly, and I could discern no life within that lake, and never saw any locals fishing there. You may remember Dunkard Creek (up-stream in Pennsylvania) as being the site of a frack-fluid dumping crime. That disposal crime was not merely an isolated incident, but was repeated several times elsewhere is western Pa.

I could go on for hundreds of paragraphs about how fracking is affecting this area, but none of it would be encouraging or provide definitive or undeniable proof of its harm. I oppose it simply because the continued and expanding use of fossil fuels is absolutely the opposite of what humanity should now be doing. If I were to join my neighbors here that would put me in the climate change denial camp, or perhaps more accurately, the climate change inevitability camp.

I post this here not to depress readers but to inform of the very large pool of resistance that exists here to any efforts to combat climate change. It is also possible, witnessing the vitriolic rhetoric in the air here, that this region will, once again, experience violence in defense of fossil fuels.