Frack attack: an interview with Wenonah Hauter.

Author:Madeson, Frances


"Fracking," or the extractive method of hydraulic fracturing, is one of those issues on which many otherwise informed people haven't yet come up to speed--especially if they are not directly affected by earthquakes, spoiled aquifers, and debilitating illnesses from exposure to toxic chemicals like benzene and toluene. Extreme energy extraction often happens in isolated rural areas designated as out-of-sight-out-of-mind "sacrifice zones."

With a rare pellucidity, Wenonah Hauter, founding director of Food & Water Watch, has written Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment. Her meticulously documented political history explores the environmental degradation from fracking as well as the corporate political machinations that allow such a destructive practice in the first place. She calls for a collective struggle to build the needed political power to ban fracking.

I caught up with Hauter in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on her book tour.

Q: By using the term "opoly," I assume you mean to evoke the concept of monopoly?

Wenonah Hauter: Yes, and to point out the hypocrisy in the system. Americans learn in school that we live in an economic system of vigorous competition. But in reality, all of the rules are fixed. During the Reagan Administration, the anti-trust rules were eviscerated. It's one of the reasons our economic system doesn't work. There's a stranglehold by the oil and gas industry cabal.

Q: What do you anticipate under the next President?

Hauter: Unsurprisingly, the Trump Administration will likely be filled with people who will benefit financially from more fracking, more industrial agriculture and factory farms, and expanded deregulation masquerading as trade policy. The people he has indicated will be in his cabinet are the same people who have advocated policies that are destroying our climate and creating a society marked by stratification and racial prejudice. We expect to see more deregulation of industry that will damage our communities, our environment, and our democracy.

We'll be researching the cabinet appointments to the agencies that have a major impact on all of our issue areas; we're already looking at who's being considered. We'll be demanding that the President meet with representatives of the fifteen million people in this country who live within a mile of a fracking well, many of whom are sick.

We'll be asking the Environmental Protection Agency to shorten the time frame in its modeling...

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