Appalachian Basin

*PHOTOS* Global Frackdown 2013: Why It Matters That No One Showed Up

This past weekend, anti-fracking activists across the United States – and allegedly around the world – participated in the “Global Frackdown,” a series of events intended to show the growing strength of activists opposed to oil and gas development.

You would be forgiven for not noticing, though.

The rallies – much like a recent one in Washington, DC, that was well-advertised and highly touted by activists – were defined more by a lack of attendance than any symbolic “growth” of opposition.

In Dallas, Texas, the ‘Global Frackdown’ rally took place in front of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Only about a dozen people showed up.

Dallas ‘Global Frackdown’ rally – Oct. 19, 2013; IMAGE SOURCE: WFAA

Dallas ‘Global Frackdown’ rally – Oct. 19, 2013; IMAGE SOURCE: WFAA

In Baltimore, Md., activists invited bar-goers at Fells Point on Saturday night to spin a “Wheel of Misfortune” that listed a series of supposed (but widely debunked) environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing. Only about a dozen people came out, and even the folks who did “spin the wheel” ended up doing so with a yawn. “[Fracking] is not high on my agenda,” one participant told the Baltimore Sun.

A gaggle of activists also showed up in Albany, N.Y., over the weekend, at an event the Albany Times Union claims drew “about 50 people.” But a picture taken of the event shows an actual number south of 20.


‘Global Frackdown’ Rally in Albany’s Townsend Park – Oct. 19, 2013

‘Global Frackdown’ Rally in Albany’s Townsend Park – Oct. 19, 2013

But at least there was some carbon-based life to be found in Albany. At an event scheduled for Saturday near the campus of the University of Southern California, there were literally zero visible participants. EID visited the advertised site during the scheduled time, and even searched the campus of the nearby California Science Center, but could find no evidence of any rally.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, less than 60 people total registered for four separate events across the state. A screening for Gasland Part II shows zero people signed up. Activists in Michigan are currently trying to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state with a petition drive, but the signature count for its most recent attempt was only about 25 percent of the total needed to get the measure on the ballot.

Opponents have also made Colorado a key target in their campaign to halt hydraulic fracturing, pushing several ballot measures that would ban the practice in a variety of municipalities. But even events in that state yielded muted enthusiasm. An event in the city of Golden shows zero registrants, while only two people registered for an event in the largest city of Denver. Activists have called on the city of Greeley to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, but only nine people registered for an event there – two of which registered as “Anonymous.”

In Columbus, Ohio, where promoters reportedly had been expecting hundreds of protestors, a “crowd” that ended up numbering fewer than five lugged what appeared to be a toilet of some sort to a “rally” in front of a hotel. We didn’t stay around long enough to see whether these folks actually put it to good use.

‘Global Frackdown’ rally in Columbus, Ohio – Oct. 18, 2013

‘Global Frackdown’ rally in Columbus, Ohio – Oct. 18, 2013

A rally scheduled for Chicago was intended to explain why shale development is “not in labor’s best interest.” Zero officials from labor unions were slated to speak, and only six people signed up. Labor unions in Ohio have supported shale development for the good jobs it delivers, and the AFL-CIO in Illinois was a strong backer of a recent regulatory bill (opposed by activists) that provided a “path forward for safe hydraulic fracturing in Illinois.”

In other parts of the world, the rallies were also less than spectacular.

In Brussels, about two dozen people created mock windmills as a protest against hydraulic fracturing and shale gas.

Brussels ‘Global Frackdown’ rally – Oct. 19, 2013

Brussels ‘Global Frackdown’ rally – Oct. 19, 2013

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has said shale gas “complements” the growth of renewables like wind and solar. Environmentalists and other clean energy advocates have said the same thing.

In Newfoundland, Canada, only about six people participated in an “informational session” as part of the global effort.

Newfoundland ‘Global Frackdown’ rally – Oct. 19, 2013

Newfoundland ‘Global Frackdown’ rally – Oct. 19, 2013

Members of the anti-oil and gas community would no doubt argue, however, that it’s not about the volume of participation at specific events, but rather the sheer number of separate events – held across numerous states and countries around the world.

But according to the Global Frackdown website, it only takes one person to fill out a simple form to establish an event. Groups opposed to hydraulic fracturing frequently claim that their movement is a grassroots uprising, but with paltry attendance at the events, it’s worth questioning whether the “global movement” is all hat and no cattle – something more relevant to reporters than the everyday folks who activists insist are being impacted by hydraulic fracturing. Indeed, at several “Frackdown” events, the number of reporters apparently exceeded the number of actual participants.

In a move that surprised exactly no one, the Kremlin-controlled network Russia Today actually broadcast “live updates” of the rallies, filing fawning reports claiming that the “world unites against fracking.” Hydraulic fracturing has propelled the United States past Russia as the world’s largest oil and gas producer, and Bloomberg recently reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly worried about the growth of U.S. natural gas production.

Unfortunately for Mr. Putin, Russia Today’s ridiculous reporting on these events probably won’t do a whole lot to change that trajectory.

  • Bill Owen
    Posted at 13:38h, 21 October Reply

    A failrly resounding THUD in Binghamton as well:—228487531.html The ONE media outlet that covered the event claimed over 100, but a source who attended said more like 50-75. Nothing on the other local television stations. Nothing in the newspaper.. Nothing to see here, move along..

    • Barbara Bonvillian
      Posted at 17:13h, 22 October Reply

      Some people would much rather have their president be dependent on foreign oil and gas countries than on the natural resources that are in their own country!

  • Marc
    Posted at 14:46h, 21 October Reply

    I have no idea where the author got his “facts”, but apparently they were manufactured to fit his agenda. In Dallas, we had at least 30-35 participants in our Global Frackdown demonstration, which lasted from 10 AM until about 12:30 PM. At times we all occupied the corner of Field Street at Woodall Rodgers Freeway immediately adjacent to the Perot Museum of (Fantasy) Nature and Science, but we also had people on at least two other corners – on across Field Street to the east at Woodall Rodgers and another one block to the west on the southwest side of the museum.

    We might have had a much larger crowd if we had not already kicked ExxonMobile (XTO Energy), Trinity East, Chief Oil and Gas and a couple of other Neanderthal companies out of town by denying them the right to drill in Dallas. We are about to enact a very strong drilling ordinance that will be the most prohibitive restrictions in the nation to further insure that they don’t come back anytime soon.

    Leave it to somebody (anybody) from Energy In Depth to falsely portray what actually happened in Dallas, and elsewhere. If we were losing like the energy industry is, and I worked for Energy In Depth, then I would also probably try to put the best possible spin on last Saturday’s actions. Anybody who can actually count past the number of fingers on their hands can count 18 people in that one photo from Dallas, which is 50% more than what Energy In Depth reported, and not all of us were on the same corner when that photo was taken.

  • Bill Roth
    Posted at 15:30h, 21 October Reply

    This was amusing – particularly the paper mache wind turbines the fractivists brought. What a nifty school project. Where’s the outcry against the thousands of birds, bats, and federally protected bald-eagle kills these monstrosities accomplish – along side their paltry 1.2% contribution to energy needs?

    • Carla
      Posted at 12:41h, 23 October Reply

      In addition to all the kills, what about the people who are getting sick from the noise of wind turbines? I’ve read several stories about that just lately. Last but not least, where do these young people think their wind turbines come from? It takes fossil fuels to forge the steel, move the components, erect the turbines, and maintain them.

      • Ken
        Posted at 16:44h, 11 November Reply

        Give me a break. Citations please. And just how sick do people get from the carbon pollution, radiation brought to the surface, and cancer causing chemicals that fracking creates and then gets reinjected back into the wells whose well-casings are made of cement (and how long does even the best cement last?)? You guys must be getting a lot of money from your oil and gas friends to print your crazy stories and imply that there is a debate worth having about a process whose life cycle creates more climate problems (if you include the methane releases) than even coal.

        • Steve Everley
          Posted at 17:02h, 11 November Reply

          Hi Ken, thanks for your comments.

          Actually, thanks to natural gas (made possible and more affordable by shale development, including the use of hydraulic fracturing) U.S. CO2 emissions are at their lowest level in twenty years. Carbon emissions have actually risen around the world in recent years, but they’re falling in the United States, and numerous experts have credited the shale boom. Even the International Energy Agency has credited the U.S. shale boom with spurring the decline in emissions.

          As for your claims on methane, they are simply unsupported by the best available science. Independent researchers, environmental groups, and even federal officials in the Obama administration have repeatedly stated that methane emissions from shale development are well below the threshold to maintain a greenhouse gas advantage for natural gas. In fact, natural gas production has grown 40 percent since 1990, and methane emissions from the oil and gas sector have fallen by 11 percent, according to EPA data. That just wouldn’t be possible if the high “methane releases” you cite were anywhere close to accurate. Thankfully, the facts tell a different story than what anti-fracking alarmists have claimed, which is to be expected.

          Thank you for reading.

        • Mark
          Posted at 19:53h, 29 October Reply

          Give me a break , Ken ! You are another lost soul of a liberal caught up in ideology instead of facts . I would like to see credible proof of your accusations instead of listening to environmental wackos spouting of at the mouth about something they have been misinformed and mislead about . The governor of Colorado drank frac fluid to prove how harmless it really is . If it were up to people like you we would all be on welfare in a socialist country depending on the government for everything. Go freeze in the dark !

  • DallasDrilling
    Posted at 16:45h, 21 October Reply

    Don’t try to minimize the success rate for those inside the gas industry bubble. Citizens of Dallas have successfully blocked gas drilling inside the city limits. No two towns are alike, nor are their methods of blocking gas drilling. Watch and learn Steve.

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