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FrackSwarm: Harnessing the Power of the Anti-Fracking Movement into a Valuable Web Resource

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page, Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

Snow drifts arc along the Interstate as a frigid wind rips through this austere landscape of western North Dakota. The scene is something out of a colorful and lonely C.M. Russell painting. If it weren't for the long line of semi-trucks backed up along Highway 85, leading into the nearby rural enclave of Williston, you may not have any idea there is something huge going on in this remote region that straddles Montana's eastern-most border.

What's happening is so huge in fact that more than 40% of traffic in this once small agricultural town is now made up of big rigs that continually haul tens of thousands of gallons of water, sand, piping and other materials out to the nearby oil fields. And it's not just happening in North Dakota, currently there are 31 states that have active shale gas and oil reserves and utilize a technology known as fracking -- an earth shattering way to extract once unreachable oil and gas reserves from complex geological formations such as the Bakken formation near Williston, North Dakota.

Thanks in large part to the literally hundreds of groups sprouting up to challenge the boom, fracking has become a household word almost overnight. This new movement is one of the most powerful groundswells of anger and activism in recent memory, yet it remains fragmented and extremely under-resourced. That's why we've created FrackSwarm, a free information clearinghouse on all things related to the practice of fracking. The resource includes company profiles, state pages, scientific studies, government policies, lobbyists and more, FrackSwarm's open source wiki platform is constantly growing and expanding in content. As such, FrackSwarm is becoming an invaluable tool for those on the front lines in the battle to fight fracking and its perpetrators.

Like so many other environmental issues fracking too is controversial -- with a profit motive on one side and environmental and human welfare on the other. Who to believe? There is so much information swirling around in the media and at the dinner table it's often difficult to decipher the valid from the outlandish. One thing is for certain, however, all across the U.S. people are organizing and digging through the propaganda in hopes of uncovering the truth. These well-meaning folks are storming City Council meetings and lobbying their representatives in hopes of making the practice of fracking more transparent and therefore, more safe. And if it can't be safe, then they want it banned outright.

As proponents tout the practice's safety, others have been critical of fracking's potential harm to water quality, increased air pollution, contribution to climate change and much more. And even though the government has been pressured to research some of fracking's glaring environmental impacts, regulations have yet to be levied on the companies and states that are cashing in at an almost exponential pace. Meanwhile President Obama continues to praise its alleged virtues.  
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