Anti-Frackers alive in Greensboro

By Mary Windsor, Staff Writer

Published in print Sept.17, 2014

The anti-fracking movement is as recent as 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has only been happening for about fifteen years in the United States.

Fracking, which is short for hydraulic fracturing, is an oil and gas drilling process that shoots a mixture of water, sand and other chemicals into rock a mile or more underground. Fracking has raised concerns with the public for its acute detrimental effects to the environment including increased seismic activity.

There are currently no federal regulations on fracking and fourteen counties in North Carolina could be subjected to fracking as soon as Spring 2015. The anti-fracking popular grassroots movement is gaining popularity in states such as North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania.

There’s a misperception that many people believe natural gas is a clean fuel, but that’s hardly the case. The extraction of natural gas releases more methane than the burning of coal and methane is a green house gas and leaves as much of an ecological footprint as coal does.

According to anti-fracking campaigns, the oil and gas industry is the largest and most powerful industry in the world and they have created false advertising that sells natural gas and fracking as a pure resource. Anti-frackers believe that the industry has been dancing around the truth of fracking and its repercussions while stating that it is better for the Earth and is allowing Americans to become independent from foreign fuel.

Kate Dunnagan, Raleigh native, began her journey into becoming more involved and educated in the anti-fracking movement during her time doing volunteer activist work with Occupy Greensboro 2001, protesting corporate power and corruption. It was during this time that she met and became aquatinted with The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League where she learned about fracking and its detrimental effects to the environment and the public.

Dunnagan participated with the Occupy Greensboro group to produce a radio drama in 2013 titled “Occupy Greensboro Energy Working Group” that showcased a hypothetical doomsday scenario in Charlotte, North Carolina. The drama was based off of Orson Welles “The War of the Worlds.” Emiley Joyce, who used to be part of the Occupy Energy Working Group, wrote and directed the script.

The real life consequences of fracking are exhibited in the drama and mirror what is occurring in Ohio right now. Since they began fracking they’ve have experienced 14 earthquakes in the past month whereas beforehand they did not have any high seismic activity.

Ian Gamble, a local anti-fracker who was affected by fracking in Rockingham County, bought an old school bus for a public art project in 2008 that he used to travel around the country with small teepees. He has now converted this school bus into an anti-fracking bulletin bus. He encourages the public to find his bus to learn more about anti-fracking and other global issues. Gamble attended a public hearing in Reedsville and he began organizing a group to attend the hearings and spread awareness.

The Fracking-Mobile is big, white and hard to miss. Gamble typically parks the bus for two hours at a time on the streets of Greensboro and is constantly moving. He addresses what he sees as the government taking advantage of the public’s ignorance and delivers honest and realistic messages about the society he lives in.

He offers free calzones, puppet making, paper mache crafts, along with outdoor performances to encourage and attract the attention of the public. Gamble does not keep a set schedule, but he can be found riding around Central Greensboro on the weekend.

On Saturday, September 20 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League will be hosting an open house letter-writing event. These letters will be sent to the Mining and Energy Commission opposing the draft rules written by the state to regulate fracking in North Carolina.

Categories: Features, Mary Windsor

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