CUSLAR opposes horizontal hydraulic fracturing of natural gas and understands that “fracking” is connected to colonial patterns of extraction throughout the hemisphere. Corporations, often with complicity or aid from governments, continue to exploit rural regions and leave them contaminated and impoverished.
As part of the fight against fracking, CUSLAR aims to share stories from throughout the Americas where resource extraction is taking place. We aim to tease out lessons about industry strategies, on one hand, and community creativity on the other.
On July 30, 2011, we organized a panel called “Community response to resource extraction in the Americas,” as part of the 10th Annual Spanish for Activists Camp.
On the panel CUSLAR Coordinator Tim Shenk shared perspectives on “colonialism coming home to roost,” connecting mining company strategies in the Dominican Republic to gas company strategies in New York State. Both are adept in “good cop, bad cop” strategies. Read a transcript of the talk here.
Extractive industries often try to brand themselves as responsible members of the community, providing funding through charitable foundations. Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas companies in the US, bills itself as the “clean energy alternative” and funds activist protests in Appalachia against mountaintop removal coal mining.
Yet the industry is also more than willing to use its economic power to bully opponents. Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold and Anschutz Exploration Corporation have both used SLAPPs, or Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation, the latter against the Town of Dryden this fall. The primary goal of a SLAPP is not necessarily to win a case, but to bankrupt smaller opponents by spending years dragging suits through the courts.
In the Dominican Republic, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, creative, sustained protest and community unity have led to victories against extractive industries. We can learn from these struggles as fracking creeps ever closer.