Anti-fracking supporters march to sway Christie
At the second annual international “Global Frackdown,” students and supporters marched down the Albany Street Bridge connecting New Brunswick and Highland Park — the only two municipalities in the state to ban fracking — to demonstrate their opposition to fracking.
“It’s really a chance for people to voice their concerns and call on elected officials in support of renewable, cleaner, safer, more sustainable energy,” said Lauren Petrie, an organizer from the Food & Water Watch.
Petrie explained the importance of “Global Frackdown” and the consequences of fracking.
“It is an international day of action, where communities and countries from across the world get together to speak out against the dangerous method of gas obstruction called hydro-fracking,” Petrie said.
Petrie said many passing cars noticed the protesters on the bridge, making the march a success.
“It was fantastic. We had about 50 people show up and they were very energized. We got a lot of attention from cars passing by,” Petrie said. “Even trucks that were carrying gasoline were honking their horns.”
Petrie said momentum is building for bans on fracking, and she hopes Gov. Chris Christie will respond to this.
“We are definitely calling on Gov. Christie to do his job and protect residents of New Jersey,” said Petrie. “So far, he’s not really doing that. Last year he vetoed a ban on fracking and a ban on fracking waste from coming into New Jersey.”
Petrie hopes Christie will notice there were more than a dozen actions in New Jersey alone to build support against his vetoes.
Food & Water Watch has a Rapid Response Network campaign, Petrie said. The group follows Gov. Christie to his public appearances to gain support for overriding his veto.
“We really want to keep this issue in the forefront. We want to make sure that Christie is aware that residents throughout N.J. are in support of a ban on fracking and [a ban on] fracking waste,” Petrie said.
Jim Walsh, state director of Food & Water Watch, said students at Rutgers should be concerned about fracking.
“We are very concerned about plans to put 20,000 fracking wells in the Delaware River basin,” Walsh said. “This is a drinking water source for about 15 million people.”
New Brunswick gets its drinking water from the Delaware-Raritan Canal, Walsh said, which feeds from the Delaware River.
“The drinking water that we receive in New Brunswick could be impacted by drilling into that watershed,” Walsh said.
Walsh went into detail about American studies conducted about water contamination coming from fracking, such as one from the Environmental Protection Agency about a Wyoming aquifer.
“Duke University has conducted studies about radioactive elements contaminating the drinking water source of Pittsburgh from fracking-waste dumping,” Walsh said.
Walsh said people who want to get fracking banned need to let Christie know they care.
“Christie needs to know that we want him to put our drinking water above the interest of oil and gas companies that would profit off of drilling in the water shed,” Walsh said.
Walsh said students could get involved with the Food & Water Watch by joining a local group that works on the fracking ban campaign.
“The only way we’re going to do this is from massive public outcry from people in the region,” Walsh said. “Rutgers students can play a tremendous role in helping to be a part of that outcry.”
Linda Powell, a “Global Frackdown” volunteer from Franklin Township, said the march was important for the survival of Earth.
“We were just a little piece of a much bigger worldwide demonstration of people who are concerned with the environment and the survival of our planet,” Powell said.
Powell said it was great to see so many different age groups getting together for a common cause.
“There was a lot of great energy from the people there that day,” Powell said. “I was glad I was able to be a part of it.”
Educating people about fracking is important, Powell said, because many people are still unaware of what it exactly means and what its consequences are.
Powell also hopes Franklin Township, which has been pushing to ban fracking for many years, will finally be able to pass ordinances and become the third town in New Jersey to ban fracking.
Petrie said she has seen many other towns in the state voice their opposition to fracking.
“Since we’re not getting the state wide protection that we need, we’re getting a lot of communities taking action on a local level,” Petrie said.