On Tuesday, April 12, at five in the afternoon, Brian Lee and Vicki Machado appeared at the chambers of the Board of County Commissioners in Gainesville, Florida. They both spoke to the board (successfully!) to encourage them to pass an ordinance banning fracking and wastewater injection in Alachua County. At seven o’clock, both could be found in room 3194 in McCarty Hall A, on the UF campus, where they presented the lecture “When People Power Works: How a Grassroots Movement Defeated a Half Million Dollars in Oil Money.”
For Vicki, former Food & Water Watch representative, now a Ph.D. candidate at UF, and Brian, lobbyist for RethinkEnergy in Tallahassee, this is the usual, cramming every moment with energy and activity.
The lecture, sponsored on campus by the Religion Graduate School Association, was about how a group of people called Floridians Against Fracking were able to defeat half a million dollars in Oil Money by stopping two disingenuous bills which purported to get tough on fracking but in reality facilitated this disastrous gas-extracting technique. It was done by lots of hard work, educating the public and our lawmakers.
Brian likened the achievements to “the ladder of engagement,” which to him means people exercising their citizenship. The group now called RethinkEnergy got its beginning as a response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, and went through several stages to reach its current status. The group Floridians Against Fracking, formerly Frack U, is a coalition statewide of many groups and individuals. Principal among those is OSFR Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, who appeared among the images (speaking to a Legislative committee) of Brian’s PowerPoint presentation.