Political Calls to Action

Anti-fracking advocates appreciate the importance of educating the public, but understand that awareness isn’t enough to enact change. That is why these different groups use political calls to action to influence political decisions. Partaking in the anti-fracking movement involves many different forms of participation. The highest number of activist participation occurs online. Hashtags are used on Twitter to gather individual accounts into specific trending topics. #NotOneWell was used in New York to gather support for banning fracking in all parts of the state (#NotOneWell, 2015). Online petitions are also used to show politicians there is support for the movement, whether it is for stricter regulations, increased environmental violation penalties or even statewide bans. These petitions are then shared on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to gain signatures and support. According to the Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, “About 500 million tweets are sent every day. This social media platform can be a powerful force for enabling collective action in modern society” (Oranburg, 2015). A petition or viral hashtag campaign can thus gain popularity very quickly.

While a majority of anti-fracking advocates only provide virtual support, the most active advocates continue to pursue the more traditional approaches to fight against fracking as well. Even though online petitions are popular, activists still petition in person. These people stand in crowded areas and try to gain as many signatures as they can, while continuing to educate the public at the same time. This allows activists to talk face-to-face with the public and ensure they understand the issues.

Another popular tactic is bird-dogging during election campaigns. “Bird-dogging is when organizers, volunteers, and other activists attend every event on the Governor’s [or other politicians’] released schedule and directly ask him [or her] to ban fracking (Leap, 2015).” This pressure eventually forces candidates to take a stance on hydraulic fracturing before the election. When New Yorkers were trying to ban fracking, they jumped at the opportunity to use bird- dogging on Governor Cuomo during his re-election campaign. Since reporters attend political events as well, it is also a way to gain publicity from the media. After elections are over, similar tactics can be used to constantly put pressure on the government. Letters can be sent and call-in days can be implemented where groups all call the same politicians requesting new fracking regulations (Leap, 2015).

In addition to these constant political calls to action, demonstrations, protests, and marches are all organized to advance the movement. One example is “Global Frackdown,” an annual day of action started in 2012 that encourages the world to stop fracking. On this day, marches are held around the world to protest the current harmful practices (Global Frackdown). Demonstrations like these prove that despite all of the distinct organizations and online groups, there is a strong and united unit willing and able to take charge against fracking.

Celebrities are useful in influencing political discourse of the issues as well. Yoko Ono, for example, used a combination of online and physical means to encourage political engagement. She started Artists Against Fracking, wrote songs, developed artwork, and gave speeches. One example is the music video “Don't Frack My Mother” she created with Sean Lennon and the Artists Against Fracking Coalition. This video was a mashup of famous celebrities singing about the dangers of fracking in New York (ArtistsvsFracking, 2013). Ono and other celebrities were doing more than just educating; they were encouraging the public to support the anti-fracking ideal as well. “Seven months after Artists Against Fracking formed, a March Quinnipiac University poll found that, for the first time, New Yorkers opposed fracking, 45 to 39 percent…”(Marcovici, 2013).

Despite all of the varied groups and approaches to anti-fracking advocacy, there is one constant characteristic of all successful players. It is the persistent attitude to keep fighting for the cause. Whether it is an individual who posts about the news each day or a coalition that holds marches, the key to victory is unwavering effort and determination. With increased advocacy, the public can be more informed about hydraulic fracturing and can learn how it relates to their communities. People can feel empowered to enact change by electing politicians who support their views and fight for divestments in harmful environmental activities. With so many varied advocacy methods, everyone can get involved in their own way to make a difference and help stop fracking. Using a mix of traditional and online approaches, these groups have the power to make the movement stronger than it has ever been in the fight against hydraulic fracturing.