During the summer in-between high school graduation, and college, my father gave me contact information for an organization — Food & Water Watch — that he thought would pique my interest. I had always believed that water is a fundamental human right, and that our fresh water reserves are vital for our survival, but I was completely unaware of the fact that people were organizing to protect water rights. Of course, Gasland was a staple part of my environmental studies course, as was the practice of fracking, but it never occurred to me about the proximity of the issue for someone in New Jersey. As I became more and more involved with F&WW, be it speaking at coffee houses promoting the work, or organizing strategies to wane the influence big oil had in the area, the more and more I became encapsulated by it. As I delved into the pedantic of fracking legislation in New Jersey, I noticed how prevalent environmental racism was — where the poorer communities, often people of color, were outlined as places to store excess fracking waste from Pennsylvania. Despite protesting the EPA in Philadelphia, little progress came to fruition. Fortunately, F&WW offered me an opportunity to help co-write legislation with one of their staffers to push for a moratorium in my home town. My rationale was that if a large township of over 60,000 residents would ban fracking waste, we would be able to create a ripple effect throughout the region before working our way into Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, despite our decent turnout at a town council meeting, and my presentation of the legislation with my co-writer, our town council denied our request to look it over because they did not believe it was an imminent threat to the area. I also cowrite legislation to present to a neighboring, slightly more conservative, town council with my friend and constituent of the town’s support, and that, too, was met with reluctance. Considering that our Governor, Chris Christie, was shipping in waste for storage, and even vetoed a State Legislature bill that would have banned it in the state altogether, it seemed futile. New Jersey has some of the best aquifers in the region, and provides water for millions of Americans, and the fact that our politicians are knowingly endangering their purity was infuriating. The momentum stalled a bit that fall, and I soon moved to New England the following spring for college, but I did take my fracking expertise with me to fight against fracked gas pipelines in Massachusetts.