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One Feisty Year and the Flood to Come: Protecting Our Waters 2012 – 2013

December 20, 2012

Shale Gas Outrage 2012 in Philadelphia. Photo © Jacques-Jean Tiziou /

The fracking industry just gave our movement a huge compliment. They say, in an official risk assessment document, that we have become more efficient, effective and sophisticated, and that 2012 was a high-water mark for the anti-fracking movement. Many activists’ favorite line from “The Global Anti-Fracking Movement: What it Wants, How it Operates, and What is Next — Managing Risk, Maximizing Opportunity” is:

“The oil and gas industry has repeatedly been caught off guard by the sophistication, speed, and influence of anti-fracking activists.”

Congratulations to every impacted person who took the profound risk of speaking out — often over and over. Kudos to every grassroots activist, every industry whistleblower, every truth-telling scientist, health professional, faith leader, labor organizer, and more. Hats off to indegatiguable bloggers, indy media folks, and to the journalists who really dig, like Susan Phillips, who just won a DuPont award for her reporting — a Pulitzer equivalent for radio — and Laura Legere, who is fighting in court to unseal records of damage done by Range Resources to Pennsylvania families.

Several of Susan Phillips’ prize-winning stories developed out of leads I gave her, because of interviews I had already done with impacted people, health professionals, and others.

That’s part of the “sophistication” and “influence” we wield.

Not to mention the energy.

Please Donate to Protecting Our Waters

It’s true that we’ve become more effective, with broader reach, deeper roots, and more creative tactics.  And it’s true that 2012, Protecting Our Waters’ third year of organizing full-time against fracking and for a sustainable future, was a high-water mark all year long, on every level, for us, in Pennsylvania and beyond.

But it’s not true that 2012 was “the” high-water mark, as the industry would like to believe. They think they can head us off at the pass. But with your help, we’ll make 2013 a flood. A flood of truth; spotlights in the dark through our Toxic Secrets Campaign; and a flood of activism, including our Communities Against Pipelines (CAP) initiative.

We need you to help us prove the industry risk assessment experts wrong about 2012 being “the” high-water mark. Help us strengthen our work to protect water, air, people, animals, farms, forests and foodsheds from fracking. Please donate to Protecting Our Waters in your year-end giving, to help us protect living communities and our climate.

Your year-end donations provide a substantial part of our annual budget, so every donation means the world to us as a small, spitfire, sparkplug grassroots organization. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible through EVOLVE Foundation, our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor.

You may give securely online here or write a check to EVOLVE Foundation, earmarked for Protecting Our Waters, mailed to 4808 Windsor Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143.

POW update: Our work, mostly unpaid, throughout 2010 and 2011 (45 articles in press, 60 public speaking gigs, massive education and outreach; Shale Gas Outrage 2011) helped win the Delaware River Basin moratorium and many other concrete victories, including four Philadelphia City Council resolutions, and set the stage for 2012.

Incredibly, we’ve done three full-time years’ worth of work with only $19,000 worth of grants. Most of the work is volunteer work by the POW Organizers. But all of the support comes from you. We need you now.

POW 2012

It’s been a challenging, creative year full of new accomplishments for Protecting Our Waters. We’ve worked hard to maintain and expand the moratorium on fracking we helped win in the Delaware River Basin, taken good care of some of the people directly impacted by fracking, educated large numbers of people, and had consistently low-budget high impacts.

Our work is geared towards limiting, slowing, stopping, and where possible, banning high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, because research and experience show its life-cycle impacts are devastating, and because it is escalating climate change.  Here are a few specifics:

  • We’ve worked behind the scenes to break over 40 important news stories about various aspects of, and impacts on real people from, shale gas drilling,  this year. Our work ensures telling truths which would otherwise go untold. One of many examples is Fracking’s Toxic Secrets (Huffington Post), from November 21 2012.
  • We’ve gone international: A network of grassroots contacts we’ve developed over three years puts us in an incredible position to help journalists from Bloomberg News to Bulgaria, from Altoona, PA to Australia, from National Nurses United to Dutch, French, and other reporters, tell it like it is.
  • We educate constantly, bring in new activists by holding exciting public events and demonstrations, and we win real policy victories (spinning off from our first victory when we galvanized a Black church coalition in Chester, PA to defeat a permit to dump shale gas waste in the Delaware River three years ago).
  • These interim victories, from the moratorium in the Delaware River Basin to the packed rooms full of passionate people testifying against compressor stations and re-injection wells for radioactive toxic waste in shale country, where Pennsylvania is already being devastated — matter tremendously, and shale country residents tell us so every day.
  • We won new Resolutions against Act 13 – including one from Philadelphia City Council and one from West Chester, in 2012, while supporting and publicizing the fight against the physicians’ gag order, also part of Act 13.

Shale Gas Outrage 2012 in Philadelphia. Photo :  JJ Tiziou
  • We organized the rousing Shale Gas Outrage events September 20th and 21st 2012, along with a few other demos:
  • We got people out and moving. From our first demonstration of the year (“EPA Send Clean Water to Dimock!”) last January, which accomplished its goal; through two demonstrations protesting the eviction of 32 families by Aqua America to make way for fracking water withdrawals; through the “Stop the Frack Attack” and Albany demonstrations and our own feisty, tightly organized Shale Gas Outrage, we’ve made a scene.

Shale Gas Outrage 2012 in Philadelphia. Photo © Jacques-Jean Tiziou 
  • Our message is vivid, and we maximize it. About 1500 people came to Shale Gas Outrage, but hundreds of thousands more learned about it from news reports, videos, and an incredibly positive photo-essay by famous photographer, JJ Tiziou.
  • We’ve had over 223,669 visitors to Protecting Our Waters’ blog — a free service we provide full of news, action alerts, photos and finger-on-the-pulse updates.  Journalists, activists, scientists, health professionals, and residents all over shale country including seventeen countries around the world, follow this blog.
  • People say our blog is a great source of news about fracking and resistance in Pennsylvania and beyond because it’s both galvanizing and accurate.  And it’s a great campaign tool, because as soon as we post News or Alerts, everyone can share, facebook, and tweet it out for speedy response.
  • We take good care of impacted people. Through our Water Emergency Fund, dubbed “Water LOVE,” we’ve delivered clean water to replace fracking-fouled water for three of the hardest-hit families in Butler County from March through December 2012. We’re proud of these ten life-saving deliveries. We also acted as a catalyst urging larger, better-funded organizations to help.
  • We’ve significantly turned up the heat on the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) through alerts and action, with one major win: our coalition successfully fought to make sure cumulative impacts from fracking are studied as part of SRBC’s 2013 Comprehensive Review! POW lobbied SRBC in Annapolis as part of this tough campaign for a moratorium on the water withdrawal permits SRBC continues to hand out to the fracking industry like so many popsicles.
  • Working as a sister to Delaware Riverkeeper Network, we’ve put DRBC on notice that we demand not just a fracking ban but also delays and outright denials of fracked gas pipeline permits in the Delaware River Basin.
  • We continue to fight for a statewide moratorium in Pennsylvania, and have successfully convinced larger organizations — including some of the same ones that scorned our pro-moratorium stance for years — to follow our lead and  take a stronger stand.
  • Our coalition work grew by leaps and bounds, including two networks we initiated: the Shale Gas Outrage coalition and PA-CLAW, which brought together 64 activist leaders from 27 PA counties in January 2012, emerging from our 2011 Freedom from Fracking Conference. We also participate in no less than seven other coalitions and networks — statewide, regional, and national. This coordination is crucial.
  • We include direct action among our tools to stop fracking using active nonviolence.

All in all, our alerts, our actions, our testimony, our research, our strategizing and coordinating with other organizations and impacted communities, and our blog, are clearly part of what the unconventional gas drilling industry is so worried about. It all because it makes us more “efficient, effective and sophisticated,” using low-budget tools including community education, direct action, grassroots lobbying, and social media for high impact.

Campaign Goals 2013

Our overall goal is to to stop fracking by all nonviolent means, continuing to use those low-budget tools for high impact. Our special commitments are to continue to organize Philly — yeah, don’t frack with Philly! — sector by sector, and to protect the state of Pennsylvania including all three giant watersheds and all of our communities… while connecting more and more with surrounding states and with the global movement against extreme fossil fuel extraction and for a sustainable future.

Our special campaigns for 2013 are the Toxic Secrets Campaign (ban non-disclosure clauses; overturn physician gag orders; close Halliburton Loophole; shine the light on all the industry wants to keep secret); and the Communities Against Pipelines (CAP) Campaign.

We’ve already been doing excellent support work on the Stop the Constitution Pipeline campaign, and support for other active pipeline campaigns from the Spectra in New York City to the international struggle to stop the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway (tar sands) pipelines. But in 2013 we will focus like a laser on the Commonwealth Pipeline, which if completed would induce massive fracking in Pennsylvania, send Marcellus Shale gas to export markets at LNG terminals, and put at risk every community it passes through from Lycoming County to Philadelphia.

The fracking industry thinks they can head us off at the pass. They think that, although 2012 was a high-water mark, they can undermine us by throwing crumbs of funds at municipalities; escalating their slick advertising campaign, and pretending that they are adequately regulated. We know that in reality, land, water and air is being poisoned at an escalating pace. More people moved out from fracked areas of Pennsylvania this year than any other year, some of them with health impacts: environmental health refugees. The situation is, in fact, more serious than most of you reading this may realize.

Yes, we want to protect our precious places, like the Loyalsock State Forest. Yes, we want to set aside densely populated areas, like the entire Delaware River Basin. But every place is precious. And every person matters as much whether they have 1500 people on their block or whether they have ten neighbors within ten miles. We will not sacrifice Pennsylvania. We will not sacrifice the bio-regions of the Marcellus Shale states. We are joined more and more closely with our allies in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and beyond.

We will win, ultimately, not only because we are effective, efficient and sophisticated organizers. We will win because we are right, and because we value life over profit, as most people actually do. We will win because we stand for a sustainable future. We know that extreme fossil fuel extraction is not necessary, but that social, political and economic re-organization is, in order to avoid catastophic climate change.

Watch out for all of us — faith leaders, artists, labor allies, health professionals, shale country grassroots leaders, and our flood of activists — in 2013!

They have the money, but we have the energy

Please give now to Protecting Our Waters to support our work. The industry is well-funded and more than happy to spread their millions all over, especially into politicians’ pockets. But they can’t match our energy.

On January 2nd, 2013 we go to Pike County to protect trees from being felled by a pipeline extension. On January 3rd we testify against Moxie Power Pant in Lycoming County. From January 4th – 12th we’ll have a presence at the Farm Show in Harrisburg. On January 15th we have two major events: Sandra Steingraber speaking at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and WHYY’s Shale Forum. Oh, yes, that’s just the first two weeks of 2013. (It’s all on our blog calendar at

The gas industry is better funded and more rapacious than ever. They’ve gone into full PR swing to try to sell us  on fracking. We are the bulwark against that, but we need help to stop the gas industry in its tracks. Your year-end donation will go right to the front lines of the fight to defend our homes and our neighbors. Please give now:

Online, you can make a secure donation to Protecting Our Waters here.

Or, write a check made out to EVOLVE Foundation (our tax-deductible 501(c) fiscal sponsor), earmark it Protecting Our Waters, and mail it to:

4808 Windsor Avenue Philadelphia PA 19143.

Thanks for all you do, all year round. Your steadfast support has been amazing. You are more powerful than you know.

Alex, Poune, abe, Claudia, Sarah, Gerry, Ann, Aaron, Mordechai, Lynne, Sayantan, Loretta, Liz, Iris and all the POW Organizers and allies thank you for your support.

  1. Mark Schmerling permalink
    December 20, 2012 12:42 pm

    They were hoping that we won’t do any better in 2013. Boy, are they in for a surprise!


    On Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM, Protecting Our Waters wrote:

    > ** > Iris Marie Bloom posted: ” Shale Gas Outrage 2012 in Philadelphia. Photo: JJ > Tiziou. The fracking industry just gave our movement a huge > compliment. They say, in an official risk assessment document, that we have > become m”

  2. permalink
    December 20, 2012 3:17 pm

    Congrats for a fight well-fought, and God’s blessings for a wonderful holiday!!   

  3. Carol Ward permalink
    December 21, 2012 8:36 am

    It is very inspiring to realize what dedicated work is being done by groups like Protecting
    Our Waters. And justly so because we are fighting for our land and our survival as people.
    Generations to come are depending on us! All warmest wishes for these holidays!

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