Written by Dan Jubelirer, a Fossil Free Fellow at the Better Future Project

Massachusetts is used to firsts. The first abolitionist newspaper, “The Liberator”, was published in Boston by William Lloyd Garrison in Boston in 1831.  The first American subway system began here in 1898. We are the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, a trend that the rest of the nation is now following, and we were  the first to pass binding climate legislation. We passed the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2008 which mandates binding carbon emissions reductions.

This summer, we are ready to be first again and lead in the fight against fracking. Technically, Massachusetts would be the second state to ban fracking after Vermont, but Vermont doesn’t have any shale so the ban is symbolic. Western Massachusetts has shale,  and recently industry has begun eyeing it as a new site to begin fracking.


The stakes could not be higher, for the health of our state, and especially for the climate.

We know that fracking contaminates drinking water, so our health and ability to grow food and drink clean water is at stake. With Obama’s recent climate speech endorsing fracked gas as a “clean energy solution,” the very prospect of inheriting a livable climate is at stake. Natural gas expansion will be the nail in the coffin for climate change. Contrary to what industry would have us believe, natural gas is still a dirty fossil fuel that puts carbon in the atmosphere.

There is no way to reduce our emissions and return to 350PPM while expanding natural gas production, especially if methane leakage is accounted for. With methane leakage taken into account, natural gas could be worse for the climate than coal.  Investment in natural gas has been undercutting investments in renewables, the US natural gas boom has shifted dollars back towards fossil fuels away from carbon-zero energy sources. Instead of investing billions in new natural gas plants, pipelines, and export terminals, we should invest in utility scale renewable energy.

While the pressure is building nationally to stop Tar Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline, the climate movement has not yet been able to step up to industry propaganda about natural gas. In his recent climate speech, Obama gave a resounding endorsement of natural gas as a “clean energy” solution.  If Obama remains pro-fracking and pro-natural gas, we are in deep trouble when it comes to the climate.

 While the president was busy touting natural gas, local climate activists were busy fighting it. Last week, a coalition of environmental groups including Better Future Project, 350 Massachusetts, and Environment America organized a petition delivery at the state house, bring over 11,000 signed petitions calling for a fracking ban.  The petitions show wide support for H.788, a bill introduced by Representatives Peter Kocot and Denise Provost to ban fracking and the processing of its toxic wastewater in the Commonwealth. Sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill received the petitions with support and spoke about the need for a fracking ban in Massachusetts. This would not only protect our air, water, and climate, but help lead the way nationally.


Delivering 11,000 Petitions to the MA State House. Don’t Frack MA!

We are building power to combat natural gas expansion in all forms. We will be mobilizing to stop the expansion of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline which would carry fracked gas to potential export terminals to be shipped overseas. Additionally,  we will be working to stop new natural gas plants from being built in Salem Harbor, Brockton and Westfield, which would increase the demand for fracked gas in the state. To get involved and learn more, check out the No Gas for Mass site. 

 I have a vision where in one year, Obama gives another climate speech in anticipation of the 2015 UN climate negotiations, where he comes out strongly against natural gas as a “bridge” fuel, and accurately describes how natural gas won’t save us, but a price on carbon which spurs rapid phase-outs of fossil fuels and rapid growth of renewables, will. We got him to talk about divestment and Keystone XL, we know how to build powerful movements which change the conversation. Its time to go all out and fight natural gas.

Game on!