The crowd was riled up by Josh Fox, director of the documentary Gasland. “If anyone’s thirsty, I brought some water from Pennsylvania for you,” he quipped, referring to one of the hotspots in the fracking wars.
Fox called Washington “the biggest frack site in the country,” except money was being injected underground instead of water. “If anyone here’s got a spare $747 million — the amount they spent on the exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act — then maybe you can start to buy back our government,” he said. “I’m guessing maybe you don’t. You have your bodies, you have your minds, and you’ve got your hearts.”
He said the movement would continue with events Aug. 25-27 in New York City and Albany, N.Y., another state that has a groundswell of not-in-my-backyard anti-fracking activism, along with a September “shale gas outrage” event in Philadelphia.
“The amazing thing about this problem is there’s a solution… we know we can run the world on renewable energy,” Fox said. “Today we have a reminder that we can run the world on the sun.”
A man shooting video for the Stop the Frack Attack website noted to another that there were 83 viewers on their livestream at this point. “Not too bad given that nobody’s getting beat up by the police,” the videographer said.
The crowd got a musical interlude from a bluegrass band: “Well you ain’t gonna frack tomorrow/No you ain’t frack next day/No you ain’t gonna frack tomorrow/Cause it may bring the end of days.”
Bill McKibben of 350.org told the protesters that also today, activists in Texas were gathering “to blockade the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline.”
“It is a movement fighting the biggest fight human beings have ever fought,” McKibben said. “Greenland in this past week has melted like it has never melted before.”
He lamented that Exxon posted a $15 billion profit last quarter. “If you’re taking away our planet and you’re taking away our future then we’re taking away your money,” McKibben told the crowd their rallying cry should be.
The rally didn’t get any of the celebrities employed to promote the event as speakers. Attendees did get an environmentalist celebrity from Down Under, though.
Dayne Pratzky, also known as “Frackman,” told the fracking opponents that they weren’t getting down and dirty enough to stop the drilling.
“Unfortunately, your dirty technology that was developed in America has landed in our backyard,” he said. “We are climbing drill rigs, we are blocking roads, and we are taking the power back.”
“If we can’t stop this here in America, it’s going to destroy the world,” Pratzky warned.
With some of their “great chanters” leading the way — “Hey hey, ho ho, hyrdofracking’s gotta go” — the crowd set off on a lengthy march up Pennsylvania Avenue and then north toward the offices of two industry associations: America’s Natural Gas Alliance and the American Petroleum Institute.
Some waved flags that said “99%” or “Occupy.” Chants included “Hey Obama, we don’t want no fracking drama” and “No fracking, no warming, resistance is forming.”
More clothes were peeled off the longer the crowd marched through the heat. A shirtless man wore a sandwich-board sign and held an “End Halliburton loophole” sign above his head. “They’re getting away with murder,” he said.
At the first stop, many in the crowd just pushed ahead with the march instead of staying for the planned street theater in front of ANGA. Chanting “shame, shame” and clad in hazardous-waste suits, several protesters presented the industry association with the “gift” of gallon bottles filled with murky water.
Except considering that they’d planned their presentation for a Saturday, no evil oil and gas barons were around to answer the door.