Fracking: We Know What We’re Against. What Are We FOR?
by Maura Stephens

As antifracktivists, we are often accused of being against fracking but not offering any alternatives to “natural” gas. That’s completely wrong. Our NO message is adamant and comprehensive, to be sure:

We say NO to fracking, you bet we do. We say NO to the heavy industrialization of bucolic and wild places. NO to poisoning our air, water, and our children’s health and future. NO to poisoning our croplands, and thus our food supply. NO to permanently withdrawing water from our precious rivers, aquifers, lakes, and streams — water that will never again return to the water-life cycle of the planet. NO to diminished (and in some cases completely negated) property values. NO to increased traffic, fumes, smog, and accidents. NO to dangerous pipelines running through our villages and countryside. NO to job promises that always — always — fall short. We say NO to toxins and fossil-fuel byproducts in our food, personal care products, and items we need for daily living. We say NO to the corporate-government collusion that is hastening catastrophic climate disruption and the kinds of weather calamities we are seeing all over the country, and the globe. We say NO to the corporate-government cabal that would force our communities to do their bidding to the detriment of our health, personal finances, and very way of life. And we say NO to municipal, state, and national elected officials who do not represent the best long-tern interests of the people and the natural world on which we all depend for survival.

But this does not mean we simply say NO. 

There are many things to which we say YES. Because we believe we can do better, as individuals, as neighbors, as communities, as a society, as a nation, as a species.

We say YES to government spending for energy conservation, creating jobs that will remain local. We say YES to community-based renewable energy options, which will create a whole new sector of learning and job opportunities. We say YES to rebuilding our crumbling infrastructures — another job-creating initiative. We say YES to transforming fossil-fuel-extracting and -producing and -delivering corporations into energy-conservation and renewable-energy-producing and -delivering models. We say YES to job-creating energy efficient transportation options for rural, suburban, and urban populations. We say YES to 90 MPG automobile fuel standards.

We say YES to organic farming without genetically deformed seeds (and outrageous use of hormones, antibiotics, and toxic pesticides and herbicides). We say YES to national and state agriculture policies that help rather than hurt family farms and discourage CAFOs (“consolidated animal feeding operations,” a gross misnomer), a.k.a. factory farms. We say YES to policies and practices that help farmers and other large landholders engage in sustainable forestry and woodlot management. We say YES to policies and programs that enable farmers and other large landowners to lease their land for wind farms, solar farms, and other renewable-energy operations to directly benefit their communities.

We say YES to cutting all use of fossil fuels in this country. If small countries like Germany, Sweden, and Denmark have already turned to solar, wind, and hydro power, why shouldn’t the “greatest country on earth” be able to do so?

We say YES to community-owned and -operated wind farms and solar farms. (We say NO to corporate-run wind and solar farms that simply add endless more energy to the current grid.) We say YES to removing fossil-fuel and nuclear energy at the same rate we add renewable energy.)

We say YES to government and community welcome of clean manufacturing in New York State and other states, restoring all those jobs exported by corporations to foreign countries back to U.S. workers.

We say YES to accelerated research and development of plant-based alternatives to the mountains of plastic and mining-based products we are now forced to employ against our wishes.

We say YES to representation by governing officials who truly care about our communities and the individuals within them, over a long term and without personal prejudice or conflict of interest.

We say YES to halting climate disruption by making the choices WE THE PEOPLE demand — we the informed, caring, forward-thinking people, not the selfish, greedy, or hoodwinked people who still believe that the corporate state might have their best interests at heart.

We say YES to healthy environments for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.

And as we work toward all these positive goals, we will continue to say NO FRACKING WAY with all our collective might.

Maura Stephens lives in Tioga County. She is a cofounder of Coalition to Protect New York, Frackbusters, RAFT (Residents Against Fracking Tioga) and SAVE S-VE (Spencer-Van Etten), among other groups. She was an early member of Sustainable Tompkins and is happy to now be working with the Sustainability Center in Ithaca.