US Fracking Tour – Day 2

Monday 7th

Today was Labour Day in Washington, a National Holiday. Very disorientating, it felt like Sunday with no traffic jams and no rush. The morning was leisurely and I found a nice Greek restaurant near my hotel where I had my lunch.

Wenonah Hauter and Aedín

Wenonah Hauter and Aedín

The temperature was 31C so I waited in the shade for Julia to catch up with me. Eventually we met up and she introduced me to Wenonah Hauter, founder and Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. Her book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America examines the corporate consolidation and control over our food system and what it means for farmers and consumers. It was an honour to meet Wenonah.

Back to the hotel where the rest of our group was gathering, then out for dinner and networking. Such an eclectic group! More about them later. We introduced ourselves and started the process of getting to know each other. All of us are involved at national level in our countries working to stop- the introduction or expansion of fracking. We include two journalists and three people from the Heinrich Boll Foundation who organised the tour.

US Fracking Tour

Julia and Aedin at Thomas Jefferson Memorial 060915

Julia and myself at Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Day 1
Imagine an email with an invitation to join an international team that is investigating first-hand the impact of Fracking on the environment and on health in US! That’s what I (Aedín McLoughlin) got a couple of weeks ago from Julia Walsh, one of the team of campaigners who successfully got a ban on fracking in New York and visited Ireland earlier in the year. So many articles have been written, photos taken and videos made, but to get a chance to see the areas in Pennsylvania that have been devastated by Fracking is an wonderful opportunity. And many thanks to Frack Action and the Heinrich Boll Foundation group who are funding the trip.

I have now arrived in Washington, where the programme begins. And what a programme! Click here to get the details. Washington, Montrose, Pennsylvania, Pittsburg, Ithica, Albany and New York City. Meetings with politicians, agencies, communities, campaigners, etc. It’s going to be a real whistle-stop tour.

So, my intention is to create a series of posts about the week that will keep those interested up to date with the “Fracking Tour”. What a privilege to be here – it is actually my first time on the East coast of US and I am very excited about what the week is going to bring.  So far, my impression of Washington is HOT – 30 C today, hotter tomorrow.  For us Irish who have had a year without a proper summer, this is challenging.  But in a very positive way!

Later
Julia Walsh met me (what a dynamic and dedicated woman!) and took me on a night-time tour of Washington.  The city centre is lovely but I believe that there is great poverty in the outskirts and racial problems.   The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is wonderful, modelled on the Pantheon in Rome and open 24 hours a day.  His ideals are carved into his monument and are as relevant today and they were then, 200 years ago.  “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”  We also glimpsed the White House through the cherry blosson trees, Washington in the Spring must be really lovely.

Aedín

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