Samantha Malone is the Communications Director for the Fractracker Alliance.
Unconventional oil and gas extraction – colloquially referred to as fracking – is set expand and take over Argentina, which has some of the largest reserves of shale oil and gas in the world. The Argentinian government is providing incentives to attract international fossil fuel companies to drill there. Given that the country recently defaulted on some of its restructured debt, a push for development will likely only intensify in the coming months. Under-regulated and under-monitored fracking, however, has already led to a series of environmental and health issues in the U.S. and beyond.
Restrictions at the World Cup
To highlight these concerns, Argentina sin fracking (ASF) members unfurled a banner calling for a ban on fracking during their highly televised World Cup held in Brazil this year. Some estimates claim that the World Cup Final was watched by 1 billion people across the globe, and at least 26 million in the U.S. ASF knew that if their banner were to appear during the broadcast as the cameras spanned the crowd, this small community group could finally begin to compete with the drilling’s promos being launched by companies across South America.
Upon opening their banner, however, a team of security guards swarmed the area. They told ASF to close the banner or risk being thrown out of the stadiu. All television cameras were directed by FIFA not to show the banner or incident in any way.
Pervasive Corruption or a Singular Experience?
Were such a response a rare occurrence, this episode would not seem all that troubling. FIFA, and the oil and gas industry, both bring with them a history of similar experiences and an air of public distrust, however.
It was recently alleged that FIFA’s decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was swayed by acts of bribery by a Qatari football official. This allegation is one of the many faced by FIFA over the years. The following John Oliver clip in his typical satirist fashion details the many corruption concerns surrounding the World Cup and its industrial giant: Watch. I, for one, share John Oliver’s conundrum.
While the industry might offer financial gains for some, corruption and a lack of transparency go hand in hand with the fossil fuel extraction. The oil and gas industry has seen its share of allegations and documented cases of corruption – including price-fixing, data propriety, and a potential health “gag rule” – on top of fracking’s existing environmental and health concerns.
An International Indiegogo Campaign
Such corruption and influence are monumental barriers for any one group to face. That is why Argentina sin fracking requested the guidance of three American non-profits: Earthworks, FracTracker Alliance, and Ecologic Institute. We have been asked to visit Argentina to share our experience of fracking in the U.S., and to help support this initiative we launched a one-month Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
Argentina sin fracking’s request. Learn more.
Our campaign ends on August 20, 2014. If you can, we humbly ask that you make an online donation. Any contribution with help. Even if we do not reach our goal, we will still use the funds to provide an exchange of ideas and lessons learned between the US and Argentina – be it by sending one staff member to Argentina instead of five, hosting a member of Argentina sin fracking in the U.S., or even a simple series of Skype sessions.
Help us shed light on the risks of fracking and improve transparency of the oil and gas industry through this international endeavor.