Americans Against Fracking held an emergency conference call the day after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan revealed the new spending bill would remove the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil, if passed.
About 100 people, many of them affiliated with environmental advocacy groups, joined in on the call, and ideas were shared on what can be done to prevent oil exports from proceeding without restrictions again.
“To lift the crude oil export ban flies in the face of climate progress less than a week after the United Nations Paris Agreement,” the group stated. Some felt hoodwinked because when they headed off to Paris, they believed President Obama would veto any bill that included lifting the ban. That no longer seems to be the case.
Lifting the ban will likely boost oil production in areas where the fracking industry’s boom has slowed down, including Eagle Ford Shale in Texas and in Oklahoma, the state that now has the highest earthquake rate in the world due to injection well use.
A flare at a fracking industry site in Panna Maria, Texas, in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale region. ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Fracking industry in Oklahoma 05 Fracking industry site in Alva, Oklahoma. ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Communities in areas where the fracking industry has taken hold are already faced with increased air pollution, water contamination, and risk of explosions from crude oil-carrying trucks and trains.
“The Democratic leadership settled for temporary credits for solar and wind when they were asking for permanent ones,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is a give-away. There is no upside.”
Siegel believes if the Democrats do not stand firm, the Republicans will continue to use extortion-like situations as a normal way of governing.
To stop the spending bill you are basically asking people to shut down the government,” she said. “It is the only way to stop it.”
When asked what the chances are of stopping this, Siegel conceded they are very small, but encouraged everyone to do whatever they can think of to stop it.
If that doesn’t work, pressure needs to be put on the administration to stop oil exports anyway.
According to Siegel, Obama can scuttle the deal after the fact. “He could declare a climate emergency to get the ban reinstated by banning export licenses for a year.”
A suggestion was made to contact Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to see if one of them would filibuster the bill.
Environmental groups plan to send action alerts urging people to call, tweet, and email their senators to reject lifting the ban.
The emergency conference call left David Braun, with Americans Against Fracking, hopeful. He was encouraged by the large number of people who were willing to drop everything to participate in the call in order to see what they can do.
Even if stopping the spending bill is a long shot, this group plans to do whatever it can to stop oil exports.
“The response from people concerned about this has been fabulous,” Siegel wrote DeSmog in an email. “Someone at Senator Feinstein’s office yesterday told me that call volume was heavy on this. People understand that fossil fuels need to stay in the ground and this outrageous giveaway to oil companies is totally unjustified.
Anti-fracking Oklahoma activist Angela Spotts at her home on the outskirts of Stillwater, Oklahoma. ©2014 Julie Dermansky
“The idea the government will lift the oil export ban, when in Oklahoma the fracking industry continues to inject fracking wastewater into the ground causing a record number of earthquakes, is unthinkable,” Angela Spotts, an anti-fracking activist in Stillwater, Oklahoma, told DeSmog.
She continues to hope the state will ban injection well use, but with fracking companies permitted to export oil, she has no doubt things will only get shakier.
Blog image credit: Road construction sign in Karnes County, Texas. ©2014 Julie Dermansky