Joan and Melissa weren’t there. Neither were Kim, Khloe and Kourtney. Carson Daly didn’t even show up. But the red carpet was rolled out in front of the Statehouse in Trenton Wednesday and anti-natural gas drilling activists handed out the first “Fracky” award to the American Petroleum Institute for what they charge is its role in endangering the environment.
The oil and gas industry association won, the activists declared, for “spinning the benefits of fracking (natural gas drilling) so hard that some people actually believe that gas is a bridge fuel to renewable.”
The other nominees for were Gov. Chris Christie (for delaying a ban on drilling in New Jersey), El Paso Pipeline Co., Cabot Oil & Gas, and Rep.Andy Harris (R-Md.). Each nominee was chosen because of some practice the protesters found objectionable.
The activists were also protesting one of several regional workshops by the American Petroleum Institute in Trenton discussing the development of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The protesters handed “swag bags" to the public that were filled with information on the risks associated with fracking.
"Today the fossil fuel industry wins the Fracky at great cost to our air, water and forests," David Pringle, campaign director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said. "However the real awards ceremony is across the street at the Statehouse beginning tomorrow.
Will the winner be dirty air and well-financed special interests or clean water and the state of New Jersey?
“We're confident the state Senate Environment Committee on a bi-partisan basis will help pick the right winners by voting to ban fracking and give another chance to Governor Christie to fight for, and other New Jerseyans to enjoy the reward of, clean air and clean water,” Pringle said.
On Thursday, the Environment Committee is expected to vote on a bill to permanently ban fracking in New Jersey before the temporary moratorium is lifted in January 2013.
"It's awards season, and what better way to protest this elite gathering than with a riff off of another elite event - the Oscars," Jim Walsh, Eastern Region director of Food & Water Watch, said. "If there were an award for destroying rural communities and endangering drinking water supplies, it would certainly go to the American Petroleum Institute, which uses its clout to spread disinformation about the dirty, polluting practice."
“These petroleum industry representatives should know that New Jersey has prevented fracking because of grave concerns about the pollution to our drinking water and communities, so they may as well go home,” Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said. “We regret that we cannot give out awards for clean and sustainable energy today and that we must recognize the American Petroleum Institute for its disgraceful failure in making drillers publicly accountable and law-abiding. In Pennsylvania alone, the state reports that as fracking races ahead, drillers commit 12 violations per day of environmental permits, adding up to thousands of pollution incidents each year.”