I wasn’t able to listen to the First Lady’s speech the night she delivered it at the Democratic National Convention. My 8-year-old daughter Claire is a night owl who loves to be read to sleep, so we lay in bed together reading Katie Kazoo Switcheroo as Michelle Obama spoke from her heart about the man she married and the country she so loves.
The next day I watched the speech on YouTube. Toward the end, Michelle spoke about who she was first and foremost amidst the many roles in her life. It was the only noticeable moment where tears filled her eyes.
“And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady and not just as a wife. You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief.’ My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.”
As I listened to her, my eyes filled with tears, knowing that I, too, am first and foremost a mom-in-chief to a daughter I love more than words could ever convey. I was moved to tears by that extraordinary love and a future my daughter and all children will be inheriting – a future that I’m not feeling very good about.
Granted the future has always and will always carry with it burdens and responsibilities that the next generation must take on when they have grown. But when it comes to poisoning water and air, the adults in this world right now have a responsibility to stop that poisoning. And right now fracking is at the top of the culprit list.
The natural gas extraction process known as fracking is poisoning children – and parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends – as I write. The toxic chemicals being injected into the Earth to extract the gas are contaminating people’s drinking/bathing water and air. It’s a fact.
Just ask the people who are suffering from the effects right now.
Like Stacey Haney of Washington County, PA. As Frack Check WV reported, the Haneys leased their land for natural gas extraction, having been told by the industry it was safe. But it wasn’t. With an active drill site and seven-acre impoundment pool near their home, which holds fracking wastewater, problems soon became apparent. Stacey’s dog and goat with two young died. Her horse became sick.
Her son was twice hospitalized with stomach pain, nausea, fatigue and mouth ulcers, forcing him to remain out of school for a year and a half. Stacey and her daughter experienced similar symptoms. Both were tested for arsenic poisoning. Stacey suffered high levels and her daughter lower levels of arsenic poisoning – a direct result of fracking contamination. The gas industry took no responsibility for this atrocity. It’s their modus operandi.
This is but one of hundreds of horrific stories. And though science may be lagging behind in “officially” validating the public health effects of fracking, the human stories make it absolutely clear that fracking poisons people.
With fracking being conducted in 34 states and currently tearing through Ohio and Pennsylvania toward New York at lightening speed, we have got to hit the brakes. And First Lady Michelle Obama may well be a key to getting into the driver’s seat.
So says Angela Monti Fox, founder of The Mothers Project, a global-grassroots organization powered by the voices of mothers, dedicated to protecting children in global communities. Angela, the mother of Josh Fox, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland, and her board of trusted advisors are passionate, informed and intent on giving a voice to children who cannot vote and do not have a say in public policy.
From the The Mothers Project mission statement:
As their advocates and protectors, we support energy sources that do not fill our children’s environment—and thus their bodies—with toxic pollutants. Recognizing that our children’s lives are inextricably bound to the abiding ecology of the planet, we support energy sources that do not threaten the stability of the world’s climate, acidify its oceans, or fill the air with asthma-inducing, cancer-causing fumes. As mothers are the first environments for our children, we mothers support energy sources that do not threaten the inner sanctuaries of pregnancy with chemicals linked to birth defects, preterm birth and cognitive deficits.
As such, we support immediate, full-scale investments in renewable energy and oppose all forms of extreme fossil fuel extraction.
I’ll second that.
Because Angela’s children and grandchild all live in areas where fracking now poses serious dangers – in Pennsylvania, California and England – and she herself in New York state, which is now teetering on lifting their moratorium on fracking, she is particularly attuned. She is also keenly aware that it is an all-out assault on a global scale.
The Mothers Project was launched by way of a full-page letter to Michelle Obama in the New York Times on Mother’s Day of this year, urging her to tune in to the grave impact fracking is having on children and their families.
…because children are more vulnerable than adults to toxic exposures, and because parents are charged with keeping children safe and providing for their future, we, the undersigned mothers, have joined with scientists, pediatricians, and public health officials in calling for a moratorium on fracking until the potential effects on children’s health and the environment can be carefully studied.
The Letter goes on to say,
Our appeal is simple and fundamental to our role as mothers. We do not want children drinking milk from cows grazing on chemically contaminated pastures. We do not want children breathing benzene on school playgrounds. We do not want convoys of water and gravel trucks sharing the roadways with school buses. Nor with teenagers learning to drive. Nor with kids on bicycles. We do not want children used as subjects in a reckless experiment whose long-term consequences and cumulative impacts are not yet understood.
Angela and the many mothers who have signed the letter hope that Michelle Obama “will be the Eleanor Roosevelt of the 21st Century,” influencing President Obama on critical issues he is not yet addressing. As ‘Mom-in-Chief” it would seem Michelle, once informed, would not be one to turn away from the truth behind fracking.
I say, as many others are saying, it will be the rising up of women’s voices and actions that will turn this world around. We are living at such a critical level of toxic saturation that it has reached a point of absurdity. Clean water and air are essential to life. With clean, renewable energy available to support and sustain us without poisoning our bodies and our world, the choice is clear.
The Mothers Project is intent on gathering 1 million signatures. When they do, there will be a public presentation of the letter to the First Lady at the White House. Will you join this global effort and sign it? The sooner we get the full attention of Michelle Obama, the better.
Click HERE to sign the letter. Ask others to sign!
The love for our children is like no other, their innocence precious and vulnerable. We owe it to them to turn the tide of pollution around to a future that is safe and promising. How can we do anything less?
** Michelle Obama photo by Stan Honda/Getty Images