Dear President Obama (2016) Movie Script

[birds chirping]
[crickets chirping]
[metal clanging]
[engines revving]
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you so much.
And nowhere
is the promise of innovation
greater than in American
made energy.
American oil production
is the highest that it's been
in eight years.
We have a supply of natural gas
that can last America
nearly 100 years.
This country needs an all out,
all of the above strategy
that develops every available
source of American energy.
[instrumental music]
I am very...firm.. my conviction
that the country
that leads the way
in clean energy
solar, wind, bio-diesel
geothermal, uh..
...that country is gonna
win the race
in the 21st century
global economy.
Ending our dependence
on fossil fuels
represents perhaps
the most difficult challenge
we have ever faced.
I believe that if we're serious
about meeting
our energy challenge
we need to operate
on all cylinders.
We, it turns out
are the Saudi Arabia
of natural gas.
We've got a lot of it.
[music continues]
The time has come
once and for all
for this nation to fully embrace
a clean energy future.
For the sake of our security
our economy and our planet
we must have the courage
and commitment to change.
[music continues]
My administration
will consider potential areas
for development
in the mid and south Atlantic
and the Gulf of Mexico.
I'm directing
the Department of Interior
to conduct annual lease sales
in Alaska's
National Petroleum Reserve.
We have a record number
of oil rigs operating right now.
More working oil and gas rigs
than the rest
of the world combined.
So do not tell me
that we're not drilling.
We're drilling
all over this country.
[music continues]
Climate change is a fact
and when our
children's children
look us in eye and ask
if we did all we could
to leave them a safer
more stable world
with new sources of energy
I want us to be able to say,
"Yes, we did."
God bless you, and God bless
the United States of America.
It's a tough job being the
President of the United States.
In many respects
it's an impossible job
trying to keep so many
different factions happy.
While at the same time
guarding the security
and future of the country
and of the world.
[instrumental music]
Few things have been
more volatile
during this
President's tenure
than trying to blend
our energy needs
and climate future.
The notion that America
could become energy independent
was certainly not
on anyone's horizon in 2008.
As a result,
the President has wrestled
with his energy vision.
We've got to have a sustained
all of the above strategy
that develops every available
source of American energy.
When President Obama
took office
he could not have predicted
the breadth of change he'd see
on the energy front.
He proposed more
deep water drilling
and then the BP oil rig
exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
He suggested nuclear might be
a part of the future.
And then the plant in Fukushima
flooded, leaked,
and was closed.
He approved drilling
in the Arctic North
but it proved too risky.
Early in his terms
he championed
the potential of clean coal.
But he ultimately has worked
to shut down
the entire coal industry.
During these same years,
alternative energy options
like solar and wind
have grown dramatically.
Solar panels abound on rooftops
and in large arrays.
Wind mills mixed with corn
fields and desert landscapes.
More jobs are being created
in the renewable industries
than in any other
energy sector.
But on President Obama's watch
"fracking" became
a household word
and 80,000
new oil and gas wells
were drilled across
the country.
All of that cheap oil and gas
wrought from the shale
has filled us
with false promise.
Whether it be an
old style pump jack
towering natural gas
drilling rig
or the relatively
small footprint of tanks
permanently stationed
on a well pad.
Today, more than 17 million
Americans live within a mile
of at least one oil
or gas well.
While shale gas and oil plays
have been tapped
in over 30 states
the infrastructure to support
distribution of all that
fracked oil and gas
sprawls across the country
including compressors stations,
pipelines, and oil trains
transporting unrefined crude
coast to coast.
Even states with no
fossil fuel resources
are forced to face the
ancillary impacts of fracking
often becoming
the unwilling repositories
for toxic by-products.
Harvested for materials
like silica sand..
...or having
fresh water removed
from the hydrological cycle
Though the United States
has a long relationship
with the gas and oil industry,
going back more than a century
today's new extreme energy
extraction gold rush
may prove to be
the President's most profound
and possibly most damaging
environmental legacy.
He came into office...2008..
Things were looking peachy.
Somebody on his staff
some bodies on his staff
his advisors,
his energy advisor
his science advisor said
"Boy, are you lucky.
"You came into office
at just the right time
"because the ind-industry
has figured out
"how to get a lot of gas
and oil out of shale.
"Never thought we could do it,
but now we know we can do it
"and we have a lot of it.
"Hundred years of natural gas.
"You are the luckiest president
to ever come in to office
because look what we gave you."
He's trying to have it
both ways.
You know,
please the oil and gas industry
uh, lower energy prices
by producing more oil and gas.
But on the other hand, uh
regulate the coal industry
to reduce emissions.
It's not that simple.
Solutions to our
energy quandary
are available today.
But what is required is a plan.
A vision...a bold leader.
Last year, the world
came together in Paris
to define a new energy future
and to agree on a plan
to reduce climate
damaging emissions
nation by nation.
Urgency was given
to the gathering
by the common knowledge
that this could be
our last moment to act
to save much of what
we hold most precious
and to pass on a planet
worthy of our children.
What was accomplished in Paris
late in 2015, was a good start
but what now?
These are the tar-balls..
As this president shapes
his environmental legacy
and as the next president
prepares to pick up
where he's left off..
..we want to introduce you
to some of those
17 million people
across the country
that have paid a price
for the boom
in extreme energy extraction.
It is their stories
that will hopefully
inform and hasten
our next moves
toward a clean
energy revolution.
Pennsylvania claims the very
first commercial oil well
in the US, going back
over a hundred years.
More recently,
it has become ground zero
in the fight over fracking.
Health complaints and evidence
of contaminated water and air
showed up here
soon after the boom began.
The negatives of fracking
are causing many residents
to reconsider the long held
pro-drilling mentality
that once reigned
in the Keystone State.
I don't see any...
problem with drilling.
I mean, I think, I think
when they started drilling
a number of years ago,
they were not doing it well
and the wells weren't cast
in a great way
and the chemicals
that were going down the wells
probably weren't healthy, and..
I mean, I'm sure
that there were some..
...there were some issues back,
years and years ago but..
...but today, drilling today
and how they do it
I think they're doing it
very responsible.
[instrumental music]
When the first hydraulic
fracturing operators
came to Pennsylvania
in the mid 2000's
they didn't take out billboards
to announce the new process.
Secrecy is one of
the industry's primary tools.
That secrecy is understandable.
Fracking involves blasting
millions of gallons
of fresh water
mixed with a toxic slurry
of chemicals and sand
to blow apart the shale
and extract the gas
trapped inside.
Every frack is like a bomb
a mile or two
beneath the surface.
The process gives operators
a new, more invasive
level of efficiency
allowing them to drill
horizontally for miles
in all directions
from a single wellhead.
Though fracking has existed
for 60 years
this new high-tech process
high volume
hydraulic fracturing
was unlike any kind of
drilling done before.
It's like comparing
the Wright Brothers' plane
to an F-15.
Mid-size companies
based in Texas and Oklahoma
with names like Cabot,
Chesapeake, and Noble
became the state's
fastest growing employers.
The result..
...close to 10,000 new gas
wells drilled across the state
in just a few years.
It snuck up on us.
Uh, and, uh, we weren't
really paying attention.
This came on...
in the last ten years, uh..
...very, very quickly.
And it took a good long time
for the citizens
who were gonna have to
live with that fracking
to catch up with it.
is a perfect example of..
They were really stampeded.
[indistinct chattering]
Bradford and Susquehanna County
had the-the two best
air qualities
in the State of Pennsylvania
before this started.
Now, Bradford County
and Susquehanna County
has got the two worst
quality of air
in the whole
State of Pennsylvania.
We're a rural farmland area
we don't have any
heavy industry up here.
We don't have
any big factories.
It's just all countryside.
They're all around us really.
We have quite a few within a
two or three mile radius of us
about nine or ten of 'em,
I think.
A year after
we moved into here..
...uh, one day all of a sudden
our water turned all gray
and our neighbor's water
turned all gray
and our well filled with methane turned black and..
...our well was actually
erupting like a geyser
'cause there was
so much methane in it.
And our levels it went from
38.9 milligrams per liter
which.. The saturation point
of water is 25 or 28--
Twenty eight.
Twenty eight milligrams per
liter, so anything beyond that
water can't hold it anymore
and it escapes.
So, our second test, our levels
had went up to 58.9. So..
- No, 58.4.
- 58.4?
It's a good thing you're good
with all those numbers 'cause..
It's all in here.
We haven't had any water
for six years.
We live out of a buffalo,
as they call it.
We-we go every week
for our own water.
Take care of that ourselves.
Even though we weren't
the ones that ruined the water
we're the ones
taking care of it.
Pennsylvania feels
it's our responsibility now.
Not Cabot's anymore.
I mean,
this place is spoiled now.
I can't leave it.. Am I gonna
leave it to my kids? For what?
So they can keep hauling water
the rest of their lives?
The government can have it back.
They want it so God damn bad.
That's what it seems
like to me.
You know, here you are,
using water as the club
to smash apart the bedrock
to get oil or gas out of it.
On its journey down
to the shale and back up again
it's picked up a lot of
naturally occurring
toxic chemicals
that are trapped in the shale.
And these can be heavy metals
these can be
radioactive substances
and these can be
other hydrocarbons
things like benzene
which we know with certainty
is a, is a, uh,
is a carcinogen.
So, all of these,
um, toxic chemicals
that had been
safely trapped in the shale
a mile or more below our feet
where they're not
gonna hurt anybody
are now exhumed
and brought to the surface.
Now, you ask about test results
and chemicals,
and everything else..
Well, sonny, here you go.
'You know, three grades of
uranium in my water.'
'Three grades of thorium,
strontium, manganese, arsenic..'
The list just goes
on and on and on.
We're idiots, we're liars,
we're just trying to get money
out of the industry
and nothing else..
All I want is my water back.
18,000 gas well pads
the size of, each one of them
for a horizontal drilling,
so huge, five acre pads.
And all the interconnecting
pipelines and roads
and, uh, truck trips,
you're talking about
more than several thousand
truck trips per well.
We don't have 18,000
of anything over here.
You know, we don't have
18,000 driveways.
This is rural America,
it's country
and because of sparse population
we're a marginalized
and our lives are not valued
as much as, um
people living in dense areas,
like a city.
We're disposable,
my life is disposable.
And that's really
difficult to fight.
Um, because you can't
go back and change.. change the regulations,
the frack regulations..
You need legislators,
and for this county
it basically a done deal.
Natural gas has me very
optimistic about the future.
optimistic about the future.
Natural gas has much less CO2
than coal or oil
and costs less too.
Using natural gas to support
more renewable energy.
Make sense for the climate.
With the gas industries
in the area
the sky is the limit.
(male announcer)
'Pennsylvania's natural gas'
'ready to fuel our future,
today and tomorrow.'
It sounded so good and
particularly with natural gas
because, uh, everyone wanted
to do something about,
uh, climate change.
People are trying to figure out
how they're gonna get
enough carbon
out of the atmosphere
to make, to make
the United States work
and to keep the economy going.
And the idea was
burning natural gas
produces lower CO2 emission
than burning coal.
This notion of a bridge
that we'd have to continue
to use natural gas as
a supposedly cleaner fossil fuel
to get us to the green
renewable future
is a ludicrous analogy.
As a civil engineer,
believe me, I know bridges.
Usually, a bridge is built
from a place where you are
to a place where you wanna get,
so you don't fall into
a place you don't wanna be.
So a place you don't want to be,
is using fossil fuels.
So the notion is you build
a bridge out of a fossil fuel
to get over the use
of fossil fuels.
Excuse me, that analogy
just is inept.
So, if we suddenly have
an abundance of natural gas
where we can switch from burning
coal to burning natural gas
it'll be good
for the environment.
So, you get to have, uh, jobs
you get to have, uh,
more natural gas production
and you get to paint yourself
as an environmentalist
all at the same time.
How good can it get?
How good can it get?
For four months
starting in late 2015
a broken three inch gas pipe
located 8500 feet below ground
in suburban Los Angeles leaked
spewing an invisible
to the eye cloud of methane
into the air.
Thanks to special
infrared images calibrated
to show gas emissions
we can see just how bad it was.
Before it was finally plugged
the leak resulted
in five billion
cubic feet of methane
being released
into the atmosphere.
The equivalent
of the yearly emissions
from all of California's
oil refineries combined.
Pound for pound methane
over a 20 year time frame
is eighty to a hundred times
more powerful
than carbon dioxide
as a contributor
to the blanket of chemicals
in the atmosphere
helping to heat up the planet.
[dramatic music]
The leak at Porter Ranch
garnered international press
because of its magnitude.
But perhaps its most
powerful impact
was reminding us
just how much methane
leaks across the country
from every gas and oil field
delivery truck and train
pipeline, compressor station
and municipality.
[music continues]
To be clear,
you cannot drill for gas
without releasing methane.
[music continues]
According to the best
available analysis..
Available in the peer-reviewed
public literature..
The use of natural gas
as a substitute for coal
for electricity generation
only has a positive benefit
for climate change,
if the leak rate is less
than about 2.7 percent.
But we now know
that the national leak rate
is far higher than 2.7 percent
which means,
the dirtiest fossil fuel
right now, the one that's
accused of being the dirtiest
the one that
the Obama administration
literally is
trying to get off the table
with his proposed clean
power plant. better
than natural gas.
Natural gas is the dirtiest..
...from a climate change
point of view.
That's what the science
is saying right now.
[instrumental music]
Perhaps no one is as familiar
with the downsides
of fossil fuel extraction
than the residents
of West Virginia.
Coal is king here.
Recoverable beneath 43
of the states' 55 counties.
With the new coal production
restrictions put into place
by the Obama administration
in an effort
to reduce carbon dioxide
pumping into the atmosphere
West Virginia was
a perfect place to frack.
The cozy relationship between
the fossil fuel industry
and the state's politicians
extends further back
than the memory of
any current West Virginian
as does a ferocious cycle
of huge corporate profits
in a decimated environment
spun around by a labor force
desperate for jobs.
Lee Raymond was once
quoted the former CEO
of, uh, ExxonMobil.
He said that
presidents come and go.
Exxon is, is basically
like a, like a country.
[machine whirring]
I love these mountains.
One of the prettiest places
in the country
and I've been around
the world and back
and, uh, West Virginia
is a beautiful place.
But this...
equitable pump station
where my grandfather worked
is three times
the size it used to be.
It belongs to EQT now,
I believe.
And it's gettin' bigger..
...and it's gettin' noisier.
And that noise
probably won't go away.
And there's not a whole lot
you could do about it
...I'm just a land owner.
Lot of things they do
in this state makes me mad.
Uh, the rape of Appalachia
ain't nothin' new.
If they just showed people
a little bit more respect.. could probably,
we could probably
swallow it a whole lot easier.
It's hard to think
of a scenario
where having a drilling rig
in your backyard
makes for good neighbors.
But that has long
been the reality
for many West Virginians.
Are you ready? Ready?
Most people who stay here
choose to be here
and choose to be poor
because this is the quality
of life they wanted.
They want a creek
in the backyard
they want a yard
for their kids to play in
they want woods,
they want a small community.
You don't have to have money
to have those kind of things.
But you do have to have money
apparently to protect them.
Uh, like, I woke up this morning
and looked out my window
and sat down
and cried for five minutes
'cause I knew this was coming.
I tried, I tried
talk to a lawyer
you gonna have
to pay for a lawyer.
I just, I..
You-you just can't do anything.
You just feel like
your hands are tied
and you can't do anything.
I mean, when they say
we shouldn't be angry
but I don't understand because
if you lose your quality of life
and you're afraid
that your water is contaminated
and you're afraid to grow
vegetables in your garden
and you've already went through
everything to eliminate
everything that could be bad
for your kids
and, it..
E-everything's left
is still all the big issues.
Water, air, soil, schools
getting your kids back
and forth to schools.
It's not, i-in five years
it's went from almost heaven
to fracking hell.
That's what it has.
That's what it is.
That's what it is.
That's what it's become.
Rather than fair wages
stable employment
and a high quality of life
West Virginians instead
have witnessed
the industrialization
of their rural state.
Like other states' economies
depend on the process
of exhuming what nature
has buried deep underground
West Virginians
are among the unhealthiest
and the poorest in the nation.
Second only to Mississippi
for lowest income per capita.
This is your classic
resource extraction
third world
underdeveloped country model
being wrought on America.
Companies come in and say,
oh, sign on the dotted line
everything's gonna be fine.
Boom! You're done.
Your land is theirs,
they can come over
they takeover,
they toxify where you are
and then later, they
cancel your royalty payments
because they decided
to tax you on the pipeline
to transport your gas.
You can't trust these people.
They're trying to perpetuate
a system that doesn't
help the planet
that doesn't help
our environment.
It causes us...enormous amount
of problems in terms
of public health
and has also a huge hand
in taking the democracy
away from Americans.
We're not living in a democracy
at the current time
and the oil and gas industry
has a lot to do with that.
(male #1)
'We came from Saginaw,
One day I was driving
on the road
and trying to find a job
and my grandpa called me
and said, uh,
"Why don't you come home?
North Dakota,
I've seen an ad on TV."
[indistinct singing]
So I called up all the boys
and said, "Hey, let's go
to North Dakota,
let's go do oil.
They're making $20-30
starting out."
[singing continues]
Got here...late one night.
Crashed at a Wal-Mart
parking lot.
Um, and just from there,
just put out jobs
and we were hired
three days later.
It's unbelievable out here.
The energy industry has always
always been a boom
and bust business.
For a few short years,
the fracking boom
turned North Dakota
into the go-to state
for industrial jobs.
Truck driving,
construction, rig working.
And the economy
went into overdrive.
What drew me here
was my husband.
We had a hard time
finding jobs and working
in Las Vegas where we were from.
Like, within a week
he found a job.
'I started my company
called Black Gold Tees.'
There's shirts
for all the jobs here
pipe-liners, roughnecks,
roustabouts, riggers, whatever.
Driller's loving life
is an oilfield wife
because there are
so many of us here
and I've sold so many
of these because of that.
'We've got it all.'
It's overwhelming
how many people are here
'cause you don't see them
all the time
but you see all the housing
you see all the construction
always happening here.
Jobs are in such demand
that in 2009,
the cost of renting
a one bedroom apartment
in Williston, North Dakota
was higher
than in New York City
or San Francisco.
Behind the flow of fossil fuel
and its promise
of financial freedom
workers with big dreams
and families in tow
poured into North Dakota
from every state
and from around the globe
all hoping to cash in.
You'll get different, different
nationalities down here
you'll get, like,
people from Sudan
Ethiopia, Sierra Leone
Ghana, Kenya.
You get a lot
of African people here.
I came to Williston,
North Dakota to look for job.
To be able to
take care of my kids.
Because it's getting tough
to get a job. goal is to work enough
and save enough money
and go back to Liberia
and start, uh, my business.
Hoping for probably, like,
two-three months from now
I can start going
to the oil field.
And I already gave my
application over there so..
That's where the money is.
You can work
other jobs around here.
You're not gonna make
according to what
you're gonna make in
that oil field for two weeks.
[speaking in foreign language]
I believe one of the, uh
the number one reason for people
migrating from A-Africa
and to come to the United State
or any part of the world
to the United State
is for a better life.
It's-it's for the American dream
as they call it.
[indistinct chattering]
As we all know in life..
...everything has advantages
and disadvantages.
But I just
left that last Sunday..
As much as these oil, fuel jobs
are helping a lot of lives
it has some disadvantages.
[intense music]
(male #2)
It is another brutal day
for America's financial market.
The Dow is getting hammered
as the price of oil
continues to drop lower.
(female #1)
'Crude is now
below $30 a barrel.'
'The plummeting price sending
shockwaves around the globe..'
Today so many new wells have
been drilled across the US
that production of oil and gas
is far outstripping demand.
The result is that oil prices
have dropped to new lows
and oil field operators
in Williston
are shutting down rigs,
laying off workers
even declaring bankruptcy.
Once again
boomtowns are going bust.
I think a lot of folks
in Williston
can see the writing on the wall
and they know that, you know
they're gonna be able to make
a little more money
for the next few months,
but after that
you know,
it's basically all over.
Well, we see
what we've often seen
in the history of
the oil and gas industry
and that's overproduction.
And then what we see
is a collapse of prices.
People whose lives depend on-on
work in-in the, uh,
oil and gas industry
are going to
have to find other work.
And the people
who were benefitting..
The hotel owners
and the restaurant owners
and the truck drivers
and-and the day laborers
and the construction crews.
All of which were indirectly
benefitting from this boom.
[blows air]
On top of the slowdown
in production
the industry is simultaneously
facing another looming
and immediate problem
the health of its workers.
These oil field jobs
are fleeting.
Often the highest
paying positions
are imported from out of state
while only the cheapest labor
is sourced locally.
Worse, it is the workers
at the bottom of the ranks
who are most at risk of injury.
Being around
all those chemicals
violent explosions
and heavy machinery
has taken a toll.
[instrumental music]
I would say that every worker
that we've talked to has been..
Has started off
being very gung ho.
They've really...go into it
and they love the industry.
They love what they're doing.
And then with time
things start to change.
They start seeing
people being injured.
So, with time
at least some of the people
that we have interviewed
have changed their mind
and-and left the industry
because of that.
Some of them have left
with serious illnesses.
Others have left
before they got sick.
[engine revving]
I am, I'm a CDO driver.
I've been working
in the industry
for six to seven years.
I've done anything
and everything
you could possibly think of
when it comes to driving a truck
for the industry.
Production water is the water
that's left over
after the frack
and whenever the gas comes up
out of the well
it brings that water up
with it.
So, once the tanks
get to a certain point
we come out in a vacuum truck.
Hook up our hoses
and pull the water out.
If you haul gasoline
if you haul acid
you haul anything over the road
DOT makes you have a hazmat
endorsement on your license.
You have to know
what you're carrying.
You have to understand
what happens
if you have an accident.
Or what happens
if you have a leak.
As far as the oil field
they just consider it as water.
I mean, it doesn't matter.
You're okay.
I-it doesn't matter
if you spill it on the ground.
It doesn't matter if it blows
out of the top of the tank.
You know,
they're taking this water
and shoving it down
another hole
somewhere else.
If you made a spill
or if you had
an accident or something else
you called your supervisor,
the dispatcher
and told 'em what happened
and they came out there
and they cleaned it up.
So we wouldn't have to pay
any of the fine
or regulations.
If you left location
after making the spill
and somebody else found it
that's when you got fired.
It was easier just to take
a tractor out there to
kinda cover it up.
You know, we were
making really good money.
And you didn't wanna complain.
You didn't want to say
that there is something wrong
or something happened.
One of the ways
that they get bonuses
is to have
a certain length of tunnel
or have a drilling operation
uh, progress
without any injuries.
So, they will get a bonus
if that happens.
So you could imagine there's
quite a bit of pressure
not to report injuries
and-and we've heard that
from workers that they..
They're encouraged to keep going
even though
they have been injured.
I really think
the-the educational
part of the industry
is really lacking.
Because if I would've known
most of this stuff
when I first started
I probably would've wore a mask
or rubber gloves
or, you know, been more careful
with the stuff
that I hauled around.
[instrumental music]
I used to work for Slumber J
Fracking Wells.
I started out, uh...
working in the shop.
The day before
they went on a frack job
they determined that they
did not have enough people
so, they took me
out of the shop.
Uh, where I was assisting
mechanics and the welders.
They actually left me in charge
of putting the chemicals
into the tanker.
So, you have
seven to ten chemicals
that went into the machine
and only four
were able to go in by hose.
We had to use buckets,
five gallon buckets
to transport those chemicals
up ten feet in the air
and we had to
pass them above our heads.
And the people who were on top
dropped those chemicals.
they dropped them on me.
[birds chirping]
And the company sent a nurse
uh, with me
to every doctor's visit
and, uh, they would never
permit them to do
any blood work on me.
And-and when they finally did
it was five-six months later.
I was actually driving down the
road when the doctor called me.
And he asked me where I was and
how fast I could
get to the hospital.
It kind of shook me up
and I said, "What's up?"
And he goes, "Well,
does cancer run in your family?"
I said, "Not that I'm aware of.
What's wrong?"
He said, "You need to
come to the hospital today."
If my white blood count
shot up to nearly 20,000
which is twice the normal range
for a year and they..
And they told me
I'd lose my teeth.
I pulled my own.
I pulled that one two weeks ago.
Those are my teeth, man.
'Okay, I shouldn't lose
all my teeth in a year.'
They quit paying
for everything.
So naturally,
it's not their fault.
Because those chemicals
are safe.
Ask them. They'll tell you.
Since day one, they never
told you of safety measures.
There was no safety meetings.
There was no respirators.
And I was running
the vac truck.
A baby bottle...water truck.
And cleanin' up
what they
sprayed off these mats.
Because that was the..
What they set around
the well hat.
So, in two days
I was standing in the stuff
anywhere from
28 to 30-some hours.
'These are all the pictures'
'from the last two years.'
Them's all burning welts.
It's like being put on..
Someone set you on fire
that nobody can put you out.
That's one of 'em days where
you're contemplating
whether to stay on this planet
or leave it
'cause you're in so much pain.
'You realize all that stuff
showin' on the outside'
'what damage is it
doing on the inside.'
Then the last two years
it was twenty
twenty times that
what's life threatening
to go to the ER.
I seen over
52 different doctors.
Uh, none of them will tell you
what it is.
[instrumental music]
Even though some of the science
is still unsettled
the ethical question
that emerges then is
what do you do in the face of
scientific uncertainty?
In the field of public health
um, we want good data, but
but we also..
It's, it's by definition
an advocacy science.
We-we-we protect people first
and foremost and so..
It-to my way of thinking
we now have
enough evidence
on the harms of fracking
um, and enough troubling signs
to push the pause button.
The-the most important thing is
to put-keep people
out of harm's way
while the wheels
of scientific proof making
keep grinding on.
[instrumental music]
It's not just workers
who get sick.
Across the country in the
states where fracking is done
neighbors of drilling cite the
same complaints over and over.
Headache, nausea, severe asthma
and breathing problems.
Living in the gas patch..
...whether as a worker
or a neighbor of a drilling rig
put you directly in harms way.
Yet amazingly,
in many communities
drilling is allowed
next to schools
churches, even hospitals.
Shall we?
Cassie, we are entering
Firestone Colorado.
'The place
where I lived for two years.'
There was 75 wells
active wells, oil
and gas wells around my house.
[music continues]
Weld County is
the center of fracking
It's the epicenter of
oil and gas development
in the state of Colorado.
And as I understand it
it's the epicenter of hydraulic
fracturing in the United States.
Weld County only
has about 260,000 people.
And we have over 21,000
active oil and gas wells.
So it comes out to about
one oil and gas well
per four homes.
'Right here we're approaching'
'um, a playground'
'that this
kindergarten school uses.'
'And there's
a active well pad right here.'
'This well pad is roughly
300 feet away from this'
'children's playground.'
Most of the people that I talk
to in this area think that
these tanks hold water,
when in fact they hold
toxic industrial liquid waste.
Tons of hydrocarbon vapors
are being released right now
and go into the environment.
And the children
that are playing in
that playground right there
are subject
to this heavy industry
and all of their
toxic emissions
that are being released.
This is not uncommon
in Colorado though.
Colorado, we have roughly
52,000 active oil
and gas wells.
And the state knows
that roughly
four thousand of these
active oil and gas wells
are in really
close proximity to homes
public playgrounds,
hospitals, daycares..
Putting the-the health
and welfare of the citizens
in danger.
These types of things
should never happen
in residential areas.
There's no moral conscious that
the industry is putting these
so close to our children
i-in our neighborhoods.
In Colorado we've had
fracking bans passed
at a referendum level
in many many towns including
Boulder, Colorado Springs, um
Broomfield, Longmont.
The people
know ha-what this means to them
and they ban it and
it moves forward on that level.
Again, in Colorado
Governor Hickenlooper is suing
those towns
for passing their
own democratic referendum.
Saying that th-they can't keep
the oil and gas industry out.
Oh, we now must turn our
full attention
to defeating
these ballot measures
uh, and I know that the industry
uh, the business community
uh, the vast majority
of elected officials
uh, both Republican
and Democratic
across the entire
state of Colorado
uh, are united in opposition.
It's outrageous.
I mean, this is
a Democratic governor
not the governor of Texas.
The governor of
the tipping point state
in Obama's election in 2012.
Um, the Democratic Party.., uh, unfortunately
rallying with the gas industry.
In-in many many places.
against its,
against the citizens.
In many cases against
the people who voted for them.
What is a more
fundamental American right
than to feel safe
in your own home?
And people are,
are prepared to fight for that.
Like, people are
fighting for their homes.
And for-for
ordinary American citizens
their home
is their biggest asset.
And home values
across the country
are being devastated
by fracking events.
[instrumental music]
We moved to Colorado, because
it's such a beautiful state.
And a very healthy state
a very healthy place to live.
At least that's what we thought
until the last couple years
when the fracking
pretty much started
taking over our lives.
Since we've lived here
the fracking has grown
And our health concerns
are growing with that.
We have a neighbor
whose well water is undrinkable.
Uh, but nobody seems to wanna
associate these fracking wells
with all of these conditions.
I'm a realtor,
I've been a realtor
in this area for 23 years.
I have sold, uh..
I can't even begin
to tell you how many homes.
They all say where's,
where's the fracking?
Can you show me a fracking map?
And when I show them
the fracking map
uh, there's a well close to
pretty much every,
all the rural properties.
Nobody wants to move out
to the county anymore.
Many in the US claim
we're living in
an over-regulated society.
When it comes
to environmental laws
we have lots of good ones.
But far too often
they are ignored
or circumvented.
When I investigate a-a potential
public health problem
let's say,
a plastics factory has blown up
near my hometown,
that's a true story.
The first place
I would go is, um
the toxics
release inventory to see
what kind of emissions this, um
uh, facility is putting out.
Um, I would also
take a look at, you know
accident reports and,
and so forth.
Um, that's not available
to-to us who are
um, doing the research on
the health impacts
of fracking because
uh, federal exemptions
to various key provisions
of our, uh, environmental laws.
Making science
half operate with one
hand tied behind its back.
This is not how we
do things.
We are more fragile today
from a
national security standpoint
than we have been
since World War II.
The dangerous stems
for our overwhelming 700 billion
dollar dependency
on foreign oil annually.
The oil and gas industry
in the US
and the politicians they
support with campaign dollars
has itself shaped the laws
intended to regulate it.
Beginning with exemptions
from parts
of the very first
federal environmental laws
including the Clean Air
and Water Acts adopted in 1970.
Among many breaks
the Bush administration
would grant their friends
in the oil and gas business
was a tinkering in rules
at the Securities
and Exchange Commission
which allowed the industry
with no oversight
to go to banks for financing
with exaggerated estimates
of how much gas and oil
was below the ground.
Due to the change
in regulatory language
the companies
were able to exaggerate
their proven reserves
by up to 400%
take on enormous debts
and fool politicians and
the public with false promises
of a shale gas revolution.
With every passing day
the evidence
has been catching my attention.
I have no doubt,
none at all
that we are in the midst
of a global warming.
Or as
I prefer to call it Spring.
[audience laughing]
The so called
Halliburton Loophole
named for Dick Cheney
who ran the giant oil company
that developed fracking
technology before he became
Vice President
is a prime example.
Just a few sentences slipped
into the more than 1500 page
energy policy act of 2005
permit hydraulic fracturing
operators to openly
violate the requirements
of the Safe Drinking Water Act
and also exempt the same
companies from disclosing
what chemicals
they inject into the land.
That simple paragraph
snuck in with little fanfare
is a twisted legalese
that allowed fracking
to begin and boom.
It was these flawed laws
that President Obama
inherited when he took office.
It's a tragedy
of the Obama administration.
The EPA has the authority
and the mandate
to solve these problems,
to protect people
from the oil industry
and people overwhelmingly
support clean air
and clean water
and use of laws
like the Clean Air Act
to protect people and reduce
green house and other pollution.
Hey, girls.
I've been told by, uh
my congressman, Jared Polis.
He came out and..
You know what he told me?
"It's time to sell out."
Is this what 15 million
Americans should do
if they don't like this,
is sell out and move on?
Sell our American dreams?
Give up on our homes?
Give up our property values?
Give up our fresh air?
Give up our American
way of life.
That's what he told me.
Not one of our
state representatives
or local officials or
anything have came, came here
to-to see what was going on
here. Not one.
Even when the EPA stepped in,
we thought they were gonna come
charging in like knights on
white horses and save the day.
And, when they issued that
order, we were like finally
we're gonna get
some kind of relief.
But then, the EPA settled
with the gas company.
It is our elected officials,
they turned their backs
on us...
that's who I blame first..
...because they allowed it.
There's all kinds of attorneys
that we tried
to get in touch with,
they just, they say, uh
you know we're sorry,
there's nothing we can do
'cause you're
in a oil and gas state.
'But we wrote these letters
and sent them to, to everybody'
'that we could, that we thought
would be in some type'
of a position of authority
to-to help us.
It's very frustrating,
and it's very scary
because we elected
these people to protect
what's happening in our city.
And when they don't,
when they blatantly, you know
choose the side
of the drilling companies
then that just shows you don't matter.
Politics? No, this isn't
about politics.
It's about people.
It's about people and if, uh,
if that, if they wanna make
it into politics, they need
to leave office and go to
work for the oil
and gas industry.
But the people that represent us
should be looking at this.
And sadly, not one
local county state
or federal elected official
represents us here
in Pennsylvania has ever been
to visit one of these people.
In several instances
during President Obama's
administration, EPA
investigations have verified
claims of ground water
caused by fracking,
most notably
in Pennsylvania,
Wyoming, and Texas.
The agency has halted
or terminated
each of these investigations
and has refused to address
the continuing problems.
I think the industry
is scared of science.
And, uh, I think that
the science on the table
is looking worse
and worse for them.
You know, they were able to hide
for a long time behind the claim
that, uh, there is no proof
that fracking ever caused
drinking water contamination.
Well, they can no longer
wave that flag.
Um, it's very clear now
that we have confirmed cases
of drinking water
in at least four states.
[thunder rumbling]
[thunder rumbling]
(male #3)
The third most powerful
earthquake in Oklahoma's
recorded history
jolted the northern part
of the state this weekend.
The magnitude 5.1 quake
centered near Fairview
was felt
in seven states overall.
(female #2)
The ground keeps shaking
in Oklahoma, and more violently
this year already
140 quakes, 3.0 or larger
an average of two
and a half per day.
Before 2008, the average
was one and a half per year.
The nationwide explosion
of fracking resulted
in a variety of problems
no one could have predicted.
One was what to do with those
billions of gallons of toxic
waste water pumped back
out of the ground.
Some went to lined pits and
landfills, some were illegally
dumped straight onto
the ground or into waterways.
Today, much of it
is injected back deep
into the ground
in separate wells.
Perhaps, the most unusual
and unexpected side effects
of all this high-pressure
injection are earthquakes.
Oklahoma is the epicenter,
billions of gallons of
waste water have been pumped
into more than 4000 wells.
Since the fracking boom began,
communities from Ohio to Texas
are threatened by tremors
never felt before.
The first really big one
that we had, uh, my husband
was asleep,
I was up watching TV.
I'd just turned off the TV and
the bed shook and hit the wall.
The picture was moving,
the windows were rattling.
My husband woke up and thought
maybe he was just having
a dream and I told him
no, it wasn't a dream.
And it just seemed like
it's getting worse everyday
now we're having
a earthquake and I wouldn't
be surprised if we were sitting
here and had one today.
You know,
during this conversation.
This whole study
ended up being a report
by Central Earthquake Research
Institute in Memphis, Tennessee
and our local USG rep.
'These are all earthquakes,
all these dots, all the little'
'yellow ones
are production wells'
'but all these circles,
green, yellow, reds, those are'
'the magnitudes
of the earthquakes.'
'I lived right here, in about
the middle of all the 1400'
'between the two injection wells
that caused 80% of 'em.'
They're proud of the fact
that they experimented
in Arkansas.
In other states,
I have friends in Pennsylvania
in New York,
in Ohio and where they are
right now, workers from here
have been taken up there
and they're bragging about
how they perfected
their fracking and waste water
and recycling in Arkansas.
'We were the guinea pigs.'
But the earthquake
felt by politicians
was that despite
industry's boasts
and predictions, there
turned out to be far less
gas and oil in the shale
than they initially predicted.
Over the last seven years or so,
something like 80,000 wells
have been drilled and fracked,
in, uh, tight oil
and shale gas plays.
We know because
we did the research
'cause we wanted to see
whether the promises
that were being made for...uh,
f-for these resources were
uh, genuine
or if this was a-a lot of hype.
And our conclusion
after doing the research
is, it's mostly hype.
We've got a supply
of natural gas..
...under our feet
that can last...America
nearly a hundred years.
Nearly a hundred years.
Now when I say..
What happened to that notion
sold to us by
the gas and oil industry
and supported by politicians
across the country.
including President Obama,
that we had a hundred years
of natural gas that would
power us into the future?
Well, it turns out those
prognosticators were off
by about 80 or 90 years.
It also turns out that most
of these new wells will
exhaust 60 to 70%
of their riches
in the first three years.
The result is that
the shale gas fields
across the US imagined
to be heavily ladened
are already tapped
their sweet spots played out.
The most recent data
on production..
...uh, shows that there has been
a slight decrease
in the amount of oil being
produced from shale.
Uh, and a certain flattening,
certainly a flattening
of the amount of gas
being produced from shale.
The Marcellus keeps increasing,
a little bit of the Utica
and Ohio keeps increasing.
All the other major
shale gas plays are in decline.
The fact is fossil fuels are,
are a finite energy resource.
There's only so much coal, oil
and natural gas in the ground
and we extract it using
the low-hanging fruit principle.
So we've got, we've already
gotten all the best stuff.
So if we want more oil,
it's going to be
polar oil, arctic oil, uh
deep water oil, uh, tar sands
oil from Canada and all of those
are expensive to produce
and high, have high
environmental risk.
[instrumental music]
I think there's a lot
of misconception about cowboys.
The ones that I've known
and respected
have always loved the land.
That's their number
You can always get the cowboys
to stand up to the oil company
when it impacts the grass,
when the water goes away
when you can't graze
the animals, when you lose
your wildlife.
There's no cowboys
that I know that don't value
those things
above everything else.
There's nothing new
about the modern cowboy.
All grass.
Fracking is gray,
I'm glad people are concerned
but I'm afraid that it's
a sexy issue that gets people
to overlook the hard,
non-spectacular work, no flames
coming out of the creek,
nobody's faucet lighting
on fire, it's just some people
drawing some lines on the ground
and saying,
we're gonna drill here
and that's what
you need to stop.
When this field started
there was one well
every 640 acres.
That was the spacing.
Now, up to 25 wells
in that same 640 acres.
Oil and gas has created
a monopoly here
and wiped out
the ranching in this area.
No more churches,
no more schools here.
No families live here,
uh, for 13 miles.
Drill, baby, drill.
When do you quit?
When it, when it's all
a parking lot?
Then, is your plan
just to continue
until there is no more
wild land until there's
no more undisturbed land?
Until it's just a,
a big North Sea platform
all across
the western United States?
Much of the...problems, I think
caused in mineral development
and in the interface of
the Federal Government
with the land owners is
because the estate is split.
that we own the surface
but...the Federal Government
owns the minerals.
And the surface estate is
subordinate to the minerals.
So when they wanna come in
and access the minerals,
they do it right on top of you.
And you essentially have
nothing to say about it.
The industry operates
the same in Texas
a state with a reputation
for independence
and rugged individualism.
Yet, even here, gas and oil
has never hesitated to take
what it wants, when it wants.
One result
of the recent boom is
that communities across
the country have been divided.
Often pitting neighbor
against neighbor.
A tiny fraction of people
in the gas patch were paid
and paid handsomely to lease
their land for drilling.
But everyone else received only
the down sides of the boom.
Industrialization, pollution
property devaluation
and ill health.
Now, I tell you
how this came about.
My wife and I went
to Middleton one day
and we came home that evening
and all of a sudden
I noticed there was
a stake out there.
Big tall wooden stake,
with a bunch of
orange ribbons on it.
When I saw that
I immediately knew what it was
'because they've been drillin'
all the way around us.'
Couple days later,
this guy shows up
says, "We're gonna
drill a well there.
You don't have a choice."
And I didn't because
I can't fight an oil company
and I can't fight
the US government.
Government says they can do that
so they took my property
they took my land,
they drill an oil well on it
and I don't get
anything out of it.
They say here's
some money for damages.
Okay, so...
I get money for damages.
The oil company gets a tax
deduction for what they give me
and then I have to pay
20 percent unearned income
on what they give me
to take my property.
So the mineral owner
got a lot of money.
And the oil company
makes a lot of money.
And all the contractors
that were involved in
getting this thing drilled
and in operation
and everythin'
made a lot of money.
And what did I get
in comparison?
I got the shaft.
Think about it,
from this vantage point
you worked your whole life.
You now own, a little
small piece of the pie
you got a home.
And natural gas companies
come in.
You gettin' less amount
off for your property now.
The value has gone down.
And what big business sees
as valuable
is that what is
underneath your property.
So they take that which is
most valuable to them
raise your taxes and fees
in order to take your property.
And then leave you
holdin' the bag.
And that is what become
the American dream.
But one of the main things
that gas is doin' is
dividin' our community.
Some are makin' money
off of this gas..
...while others are gettin'
sick off of this gas.
So for those
who are makin' the money
it's their blessin'.
But for those
who are gettin' sick.. has become a curse
on our community.
'Across from the neighborhood,
across from the school'
'across from the church'
'they just came in
against our opposition.'
'They just, they just
put 'em, anywhere.'
'Not what's in the best interest
of the neighborhood'
'or the students..'
'...but what's in the best
interest of...the industry.'
So one would ask,
"Is it in our best interest
to have them drillin'
in our communities?"
And those of us
who've seen the impact
thus forth say,
"Absolutely not."
It's profit above people.
And anytime,
profit supersedes people
then that's not in the best
interest of our neighborhood.
[instrumental music]
It's not just individuals
who struggle
with the rights and wrongs
of fossil fuel extraction.
Sometimes, entire towns can
be unwillingly put at risk
thanks to conflicting
zoning laws.
Like here, in Abita Springs
in a state typically known
for being very friendly
to the oil and gas industry.
Greg Lemons had a long career
travelling the world
as a salesman before
settling down in Abita Springs
where his family has lived
for six generations.
A Republican. He's been mayor
for just one term.
And is taken on
the oil and gas industry
in a way
very alien to most Louisianans.
And I heard about it on
a newspaper article
that saying
that there would be a, um
fracking wells that would be
put out here on our doorstep.
It's the first time
I heard about it.
And I, you know,
was not notified by any
government agencies
or anything like that.
I'm charged with the health
and welfare of our community.
And, and anything
that jeopardizes it
I-I should know about it.
Initially, I thought it
as being Republican
and I thought,
it was gonna be a windfall
for the town of Abita Springs.
So I got deep
and I picked the covers open
and looked at it
and come to find out
that, that,
that economic benefit was
pretty well smoke and mirrors.
You know,
they talkin' about one well
but there's already been
60,000 acres leased
for oil and gas production.
Businesses don't go out
and lease that property
unless they plan on doin'
a lot of drilling
and lot of production.
The parish has zoning laws
through their Home Rule Charter
which is
constitutionally protected
say that they
have right to control
what goes in those areas.
The bad law on the books
of the State of Louisiana says
Department of Natural Resource
in the case of oil and gas has
a right to make that decision.
I mean it's really a crazy
proposition when you think
about the argument
that they're making
Then they're saying,
under the law
we can go absolutely
anywhere we want.
You know, fill in the blank,
pick your favorite
beautiful place,
quiet, next to your house.
Next to you.. Anywhere.
Nothing is...not you know,
nothing is sacrosanct.
They can go anywhere they want
according to their argument.
If the parishes' zoning laws
mean nothin'
guess what? Town of Abita
zoning laws mean nothin'.
So that, that was really
frightening to people.
I remember sitting
at the public meeting
they had
in Abita Springs early on
and just lookin' around the room
and listening to the people
just shocked beyond belief
that this could
happen in America.
People say,
"How could that happen?"
Well, we have ground leases
in Louisiana.
We have mineral leases.
You may own the property
on top of it
but you may not own
the mineral resources
and if somebody has property
next door to you
with that fracking method,
they could go for miles
underneath your property,
and there's nothin'
you can do about it.
I-I think that was a big part
of the motivation
to get involved
and get involved quick
is that,
basically they were being told
"You have no say in this,
no matter where it goes."
[instrumental music]
When we think of California,
the first images
that pop into our heads
are the ocean
beaches, mountains
organic farming
green living
beautiful people
Often overlooked
is California's starring role
as the third largest producer
of gas and oil in the US.
In a state,
racked by record drought
and still America's bread
basket, producing more than
fifty percent of the country's
fruits and vegetables
clean water is almost as
valuable a commodity as oil.
With the overlap of the drought
and the boom in new extreme
energy extraction processes
California drills
300 new wells a month.
One of the most insidious
meet-ups of oil and water
is that some
of the highly toxic
waste water
resulting from fracking
is being used to irrigate
California's crops.
One thing people
need to remember
all waterways are connected
whether below ground,
above ground, aquifers, rivers
one way or another,
everything's connected by water.
As I looked into this
I-I realized
there was no testing.
In 2015, Scott made
independent tests of the water
the oil company said
had been filtered of toxins
before being given to farmers,
often for free.
We tested the whole ten-miles
canal system.
Results came back
and we started seeing
solvents, chemicals of concern
that were matching up with oil
that was coming out
of the ground in Kern County.
I was shocked.
When I came out here,
I ended up in the middle
of an almond field
with the smell of oil worse
than it was
when I was on the ground at BP.
Water Department,
that is taking produced water
that has oil
and other contamination
and then using it
to irrigate.
'This is just like
in Venice, Louisiana'
'when I was out with fishermen
in the Gulf of Mexico.'
It's the same thing.
It's the exact same thing.
You shouldn't have oil
you shouldn't have volatile
chemicals in the water.
It's that simple.
Both my grandfathers were
farming on either side of me.
I'm living here, and one
grandfather's two miles
that way and the other one's
three miles this way.
Both my parents were raised
here. And I was raised here.
So farming, of course,
is in my blood that way.
The fact that the oil has moved
into this area is a new thing.
Never saw an oil well
in this area when I was young
not where the intensive farming
was going on.
They were separate. So we pretty
much could ignore each other.
Now, there's conflicts between
the oil companies
and the farmers.
Yeah, we kinda have
a nice system here
of-of water coming
from the mountains
and very good soil,
deep nice soil.
If our ground water
is contaminated
it puts a real dent
in how much farming we can do.
Can you irrigate...
crops like grapes and oranges
that are full of water
and guarantee that chemicals
in your irrigation water
don't now get into
those-those crops?
It's a big unknown because
no-nobody has ever taken
the precautionary approach
and say
"This water has dangerous
chemicals in it.
So you shouldn't be irrigating
with it until we know more."
Nobody's even
thought about whether
they're contaminating
the food that humans eat.
It's not just clean water
that suffers from all this
extreme energy extraction
in California.
For many years,
highly industrialized drilling
utilizing acids, steam
and hydraulic fracturing
has taken place in the heart
of urban Los Angeles.
Mostly, in working class
Tankers filled with tens
of thousands of gallons
of acids and other chemicals
pull behind these walls.
Just three feet from where
people sleep, play
cook and study.
Workers pull on hazmat suits
pump chemicals into the ground
and oil and gas back out.
During the process, toxic
chemicals including carcinogens
and endocrine disruptors
escape into the air.
No notice is given
to neighbors. No warnings.
You're just taking a walk,
you would immediately be hit
by the strong smell of,
you know, of gas.
Or sometimes there was mask,
you know.
It was also found
that they had masking agents.
That would then
somehow smell like
you know, like fruity smells--
Yeah, it would be like
an artificial smell. Yeah.
And so even that
was uncomfortable
'cause I...well, why does it
smell like that?
In our family there was a lot
of nausea, there's, you know..
- Yeah..
- Do you wanna share some--
Yeah, I would get like
a lot of nosebleeds
and I would be, um,
really nauseous all the time
and get a lot of headaches.
The odors for this facility make
our community sick.
And it's not...fair.
I have to say that
we've done a lot to lead
um, in reducing emissions
um, reducing green house gas
emissions across...California.
I think we've set a great
example for a lot of states.
And at the same time
we're the third largest
oil producing state
in the country.
And while
there seems to be this focus on
you know,
changing your light bulbs and
driving electric cars
and putting solar on your house
all of which
are really great things
we continue
to pump California dry
of every last drop of oil
we can muster.
Until you address
that half of the equation
you really can't lead on climate
and I think that's what's been
uh, most dis-disappointing about
Governor Brown's tenure here.
California Governor,
Jerry Brown
is in his fourth term.
He never hesitates to remind us
of his leading man reputation
as a green politician.
Going back to his first terms
in the 1970's
when he was nicknamed
Moonbeam Brown.
And our planets, spaceship Earth
we're all going through
the universe together
'taking out of the same well'
same ozone layer
and we gotta protect it.
He really, um, understands
the impacts of climate change
and sees himself
as a leader on climate
and yet, at the same time, uh,
you can't lead on climate
and frack your state dry
of every last drop of oil.
For all of his green efforts
to cut emissions
promote renewable energy, paint
himself as a climate champion
Governor Brown's unwillingness
to slow the expansion
of gas and oil in his state
has proved a huge gamble.
Reducing an entire state's
climate footprint
is a game of inches.
One serious accident can turn
back years of progress
proved by the catastrophic
well failure
and leak at Porter Ranch.
During the leak, more
than 7000 suburban residents
fled the community
or were relocated.
Many suffering from a litany
of two familiar maladies.
Nose bleeds,
vomiting, headaches
and respiratory problems.
Sadly, no one in those working
class neighborhoods
of downtown Los Angeles,
suffering and complaining
for years of the same maladies
due to the chemicals
in their air, has ever been
offered to be relocated.
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
Two years ago, I stood
in this beautiful state building
and participated
in our rite of democracy.
And we're asking for
a moratorium on hydro-fracking.
'Our thinking on this
has evolved'
and we're here to ask our
governor to evolve along with us
and use the science, and use
what has been taught to us
by the victims,
and what have been taught to us
'by the medical community'
and evolve to ban fracking now.
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
Ban fracking now!
This is really
a grassroots campaign.
What started around people's
kitchen tables grew into
the largest social movement
in New York state's history.
New York State
sits over the largest
shale gas reserve in the US
and industry was desperate
to start drilling.
But it ran into an unexpected
patch work coalition
of citizen's groups
that did not want
to see the mostly agricultural
state industrialized
Governor Andrew Cuomo
was caught in the middle.
Pushed hard by both sides.
Especially the well-funded
oil and gas lobbies.
The fight was waged
for several years
while a grassroots revolution
was taking hold.
I'm overjoyed, overjoyed today
to join such an enormous
crowd of New Yorkers
who've come out today
because we don't want
fracking in New York.
And on a day when all eyes
in the state turn to Albany
and turn to Governor Cuomo
and his state of the state
we're here to remind him
that we won't accept fracking
and that the movement
to ban fracking will never stop.
We won't stop
until Governor Cuomo
protects our health
and our environment
by keeping fracking
out of the state.
The movement to ban fracking
and embrace renewable energy
is one of the fastest
growing movements in the nation.
And the whole nation is watching
what happens here in New York.
So, why are all
these people here?
Because we love New York!
We love our communities.
'We love our farms
and our forests.'
And we do not want
that destroyed by fracking
and a greedy industry.
[crowd cheering]
[indistinct chanting]
I can remember well
organizing the first rally
uh, outside of our state capitol
to ban fracking when
we had a few hundred people.
You can literally see
the numbers grow
from just a few hundred
to a thousand,
to three thousand and-and on.
And so, over the course
of time we just continued
to see the more the people
learned about fracking
the more people
were opposed to fracking.
Uh, last issue is fracking.
Uh, I've been asked about
fracking about 14,600 times.
I am not a scientist.
Uh, I'm not
an environmental expert.
I'm not a health expert.
So, let's bring the emotion down
and let's ask the qualified
experts what their opinion is.
Would I live in a community
with HVHF
based on the facts I have now?
Would I let my child
play in the school field
near by?
Or my family drink
the water from the tap
or grow their vegetables
in the soil
after looking
at the plethora of reports
as you see behind me
and others that I have
in my office?
My answer in no.
This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
To the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest
To the Gulf Stream Waters
This land was made
to be frack free
New York is frack free!
Today is a great day
for New Yorkers
and people across this country
because today,
New York has a ban on fracking.
I woke up this morning
proud to be a New Yorker.
A state in which we speak
and government listens.
They listened to the science
'and they made a decision
based on the facts.'
So, thank you, Governor Cuomo,
for being such a leader.
My son was eight years old
when I decided to take all
of my skill set as a scientist
and throw it into this fight
um, he's now
going into high school.
And every time I came to Albany
and came home, he would
ask me the same question
"Mom, did you ban fracking yet?"
'So, yesterday when I heard
this announcement'
'I called my son in school'
and I said, "Elijah,
ask me that question.
You always ask me when I come
home from Albany. Just ask me."
And then he asked me
and I said, "Yeah, we did it.
We did it today."
Speaking personally, proud to
have worked with everyone here.
We were here in 2009
with Mark Ruffalo
and Pete Seeger which was really
the kind of kickoff
of that campaign
and that infused the spirit
of the grassroots part
of this whole campaign
and this whole coalition.
And without that energy,
grit, determination, and guts
we wouldn't be here today
at all.
'This is a momentous victory.'
'Don't forget that.'
And we beat
an extraordinarily rich
powerful adversary.
'They're right now,
the same adversaries'
'they're gonna try to fight us'
'as we move forward
on renewables.'
They're trying
to kill wind in Washington.
They're trying
to kill solar in Washington.
They tried to kill solar
in this state but they failed.
But you know somethin'?
We beat them then,
we beat them yesterday
we'll beat
them tomorrow as well.
Though it didn't come easily
New York is currently the only
shale gas bearing state
with a ban on fracking.
Looking back decades from now
the battle fought here
maybe remembered
as the first great victory
in the clean energy revolution.
We all need and use energy.
And options to fossil fuels
are growing fast.
Including wind, solar,
geo-thermal and hydro.
Iowa for example,
produces 27 percent
of its energy from wind.
California's electric car fleet
is powered by energy
from the sun.
Towns from Texas to New York
have gone off the grid
often because it makes
economic sense
as well as being good
for the environment.
More jobs are being created
in renewable energy industries
than in oil and gas extraction.
There'll be so much growth
in clean and renewable energy
and the cost will come down
as a result.
There'll be a natural
transition and elimination
of the use of coal,
oil, and gas.
We do you think
that we can have a transition
to a hundred percent renewable
energy for all purposes
by 2050.
Renewables have been ready
since the 1990s.
I worked on the renewables
program in the 1990s
and we called places
like the Midwest
the Saudi Arabia
of wind power.
There's still a lot
of basic research.
Fundamental physics.
Quantum mechanics
going on in the solar area.
Physics is on our side.
It's really time
to come up with an economy
that is the equivalent of the
iPhone for our energy system
rather than keep relying
on the old coal, oil and gas
which is like
the rotary dial phone.
I think there's nothing sacred.
It's all gonna change.
What's the process
whereby we get from, uh
an economy that's 85%
dependent on fossil fuels
to an economy that's 85%
dependent on solar and wind?
See, right now it actually
takes coal, oil, and natural gas
to build solar panels
and wind turbines.
If we have the research
and development
then over the course
of a decade or two decades
we could build
the industrial capacity
to produce renewable energy
without fossil fuels.
[instrumental music]
Fossil fuels
have become the basis
for our entire way of life.
And you don't make
an overall energy transition
without time
and thought and investment.
We never had
a major change in technology
in this country without
some government participation.
Whether you're talking
about the railroads
nuclear power, electrification
the internet
all of these things took
massive government spending.
And the only way
you can get that to happen
is by working right on down
from the top level
to the bottom level.
People have to become involved
and people
have to become invested.
It's almost like a test
for us as American citizens.
How do we pass this test?
And is there still time?
Humans are frankly
a rapacious species.
Without the willpower
to restrain our consumption
and without
the wisdom to recognize
that we are just one link
in a global ecosystem
we may fail our greatest test
to survive.
On September 21, 2014
up to 400,000 people took
to the streets of New York City
to demand that our nation
address climate change
and lead with renewable
energy solutions.
What they took away
from the ban on fracking
in New York state
was that when people organize
they can win.
I was at that
climate change march.
And it opened my eyes,
mind and heart
to see that incredible
out pouring of human energy.
The goal of the march
was to draw global attention
to the need to shift from
a fossil fuel-driven economy
to one that harnesses
renewable energy sources.
President Obama, you've done
a lot during your time
in office to influence
our energy future.
I know you understand
that if we are to preserve
the planet's climate
for generations to come
the only path is to keep
fossil fuels in the ground.
You've tried to rain in
carbon dioxide emissions
from coal plants and stood up
the climate deniers.
At the same time, under your
watch, fossil fuel extraction
has grown increasingly extreme.
Companies are drilling deeper.
Accidents more frequent.
Danger's constant.
Vast acres of public lands
and the deep sea
are being drilled
at all-time highs.
In order to try and put
coal out of business
you sided with natural gas.
But the shale gas boom that
many said would be a bridge
to a new energy future
has turned out to be nothing
more than a dead end.
By trying to please everyone
I'm afraid that your all
of the above energy policy
has left many millions
of Americans in harm's way.
If we wanna keep moving toward
a future free of fossil fuels
then real change
must come from ourselves
and from our leaders.
We must join together
to shift the power
and change our energy system.
The time is now
to re-power our country
with energy from the sun,
the wind and the water.
The time for a clean energy
revolution is now.
[instrumental music]