Hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) in order to recover natural gas supplies has been making big news in the New York region over the last couple of years because the procedure could directly threaten New York City’s famously pure water supplies in the Catskills. A strong citizen movement has arisen to challenge fracking in New York, and the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has delayed release of an inquiry into the procedure. Since the state missed a mid-February deadline, the review process will have to be restarted, with another round of citizen hearings in which the people can make their voices of opposition to the process heard.
But fracking is an issue not just in New York, not just in the United States, but around the world. A recent report released by the wonderful Transnational Institute (TNI) explores the global boom in fracking. The TNI report links fracking to a spate of water and land grabs that has unfolded in recent years, with baleful alliances between nation-states and big capital leading to the privatization of the commons around the world. As TNI puts it,
Fracking is an expression of the water and land grabbing agenda already underpinning expanding corporate takeover of natural resources. In addition to further intensifying and spreading fossil fuel extraction-related environmental destruction, fracking is breathing new life into the corporate oil industry, which is already a serious impediment to democratic control of resources and resource management and a key actor behind accelerating climate change. For all these reasons, fracking must be stopped.
The TNI report explains how fracking works, who the interests promoting fracking are, how fracking is part of an agenda to privatize the global commons, and, perhaps most importantly, what kinds of resistance movements are igniting around the world to challenge fracking. This is essential reading.