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Anti-Fracking Campus ‘Protest’ Actually Interns From Green Group

Environment America stages demonstration, organizes college-based lobbying campaign to pressure lawmakers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At first glance, it looked like a little protest of sorts on the American University campus – two young people braving frigid temperatures to hold aloft signs and decry the injustices of hydraulic fracking.

“Tell Obama to stop fracking our land and poisoning our people,” they cried out among other slogans, stopping here and there to ask students who walked by to sign their petition.

One might assume they were students themselves. Yet upon further review, it turns out they were actually interns dispatched from the D.C.-office of the green group Environment America, which has recently created a lobbying program aimed at college students nationwide.

“I knew I wanted to work for environmental causes,” said one of the “protestors,” Madison, who described herself as a “visibility intern” in an interview with The College Fix.protestwideangle

The other intern, Zach, said in an interview that “a lot of people in this generation aren’t well informed about environmental issues. It’s important so they can make educated decisions about it.”

An email to Environment America by The College Fix seeking comment went unanswered.

The drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is one of the environmental lobby’s biggest targets, and it appears Environment America, a nationwide nonprofit with political ties, is now taking the fight to college kids.

In addition to last week’s staged protest, the organization has created a “Student Frack Pack,” which details instructions on how to lobby against fracking. It encourages students to call their local lawmakers, write in to their local newspapers, and collect petition signatures.

It includes pages and pages of talking points as well.

“This dirty drilling is contaminating our water, making nearby families sick, and turning forests and rural landscapes into dangerous industrial zones—all while releasing significant global warming pollution,” reads the “Frack Pack.”

The campaign also encourages students to use the Twitter hashtag #ohfrackno to voice concerns.

“The more they hear from us, the better,” the Student Frack Pack states. “After collecting each petition signature, or as its own activity, you can recruit students, professors, and staff on your campus to call their senators.”

Environment America “is a federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations,” according to its website.

The organization has a Political Action Committee, known as Environment America Action Fund, which spent more than $1.3 million in independent expenditures during the 2012 election cycle, according to data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation.

All candidates supported by the fund are Democrats, including progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

The fund even spent more than $500,000 supporting President Obama, despite the seemingly negative attitude toward his inaction on fracking.

And while many environmental groups have claimed fracking is harmful to the environment, according to former Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, “fracking as a technology is perfectly capable of being clean.”  

The fracking method has been around for decades, but attracted negative attention when it began to increase American fossil fuel production.

College Fix contributor Josh Kaib is a student at American University.

IMAGES: Josh Kaib

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