Helen Slottje was one of 6 to receive the 2014 Goldman Environment Prize; see the full piece I wrote here, an extract of which follows. I interviewed Helen personally, and like all the Goldman prize winners, she is truly awe-inspiring; may she inspire you.
Helen Slottje, Fighting Fracking, in the United States
Helen is doing battle literally on top of the Marcellus Shale, the largest shale gas deposit in the United States. Over a million oil or gas wells now dot the US landscape, so her work has national implications.
A commercial attorney turned rural lawyer, she gained crucial insights from an early failure to develop a successful legal framework for nearly 200 (and counting) rural communities to pass local fracking bans.
Her insights are many. At a personal level, she is now far more conscious at home about using energy, the real cost of which is far higher than any number she will ever see on a monthly bill.
The real cost of natural gas: the unnatural environmental impacts of fracking it. Source: Helen Slottje at flickr.
At a local level, “Despite the gas industry telling us there was nothing we can do, we do have very important home rule rights and the right to make local decisions,” she says. Take home message: don’t let big industry bully you.
Scaling up, “Fracking is scraping the bottom of the energy barrel,” she notes. Many wells fail outright or do so within a few years; on a long-term basis, even the best cement casings are unable to contain toxins. It’s not a question of if, but when a fracking site will contaminate the surrounding area. There is no safe way to do fracking.
Up close and impersonal: the environmental contamination from fracking ultimately affects everyone, whether it is the surrounding community, or the world from the global heating created by burning gas. Source: Helen Slottje at flickr.
But what about using gas as a transitional fuel? The gas industry has been talking about that since 1981, she scoffs. At a fundamental level, our democracy is being replaced by major oligarchies, like the fossil fuel industry, she has come to realize. It’s time for us to fight back.
And fight back is what her organization, the Community Environmental Defense Council (CEDC), does, pushing the envelope for opportunities to make a difference quickly, and broadening their sights. Although they were the first to do this, they have watched it become a mainstream industry. She predicts an explosion in the number of communities adopting anti-fracking regulations within the next year.
Fracking is exploding across the landscape of the US, not just in New York. Source:www.shaleshock.org
As the website notes,
“Fracking and fossil fuels are choking off renewable energy solutions. The future of solar energy and other renewables is dependent upon political will to stand up to fossil fuel interests, not on technology.”
Helen will be using her award to help the CEDC keep pushing that envelope. You can help them now, here.
Join the swelling numbers of voters TELLING Congress they’ll vote for Clean Energy candidates here. This is an ongoing campaign (the next Congressional election is this year!) so please, spread the word. It’s our way of telling Congress that a strong clean energy voting bloc is out there. This is how YOU can make a difference.
For more on Climate Change, check out my weekly column at the HuffingtonPost, Climate Change This Week
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