Oil Drilling and Fossil Fuel Extraction: A Feminist Angle

Muskan Acharya

Figure 1 Source: iStock

People frequently discuss oil drilling and the extraction of fossil fuels from the standpoint of climate change, which they primarily affect. But what if we looked at the entire set from a new position and perspective? A set that is so different and controversial that the masses know it as A Feminist Angle.

Feminism is rarely associated with billion-dollar businesses like fracking and energy extraction. However, the Norwegian and the Russian hydrocarbon companies have always associated their drilling practices with masculinity, especially in controlling nature using the latest technologies. 

Whenever a new territory is in question for a possible oil drilling and fossil fuel extraction practice, it is associated with conquering or taking that place under the influence of patriarchal norms and beliefs.

When a third person looks at the decision-making processes in elite companies that deal with natural energies, it often seems to fall under the basis of gender division and responsibilities.

So if we look at these businesses, we can often pinpoint the discrepancies and power that they hold and possibly bring a change to the process.

Not only in terms of decision-making, the act of extraction and drilling also affects the health and safety of women directly and indirectly. According to societal norms, fracking affects mostly Black, Indigenous, Latina/Chicana, and many other weak, low-income, or unemployed women. The effect ranges from right-out discrimination, racism, breaching of rights, pollution, global warming-induced high temperature, and declining fertility rates to establishing “man” camps for the physical works involved in fracking and fossil fuel extraction.

The key factor causing harmful health effects is the pollution of the air, water, and soil brought on by the usage of fossil fuels. For instance, air and water pollution frequently causes risks to maternal health, ovarian diseases, and breast cancer. Fracking’s proximity also leads to unfavorable, low birth weight, abnormalities, and high-risk pregnancies.

If we dive into details, the $9.4 billion Formosa Sunshine Project emits 13 million tons of carbon dioxide yearly, and levels of ethylene oxide are 246 times higher than those the EPA considers carcinogenic. In addition, female employees may suffer from more miscarriages at higher levels of ethylene oxide exposure, according to the EPA. Also, the temporary housing set up for fracking are an inherent danger to young women living near that area, especially indigenous women whose rights are already compromised.

As the climate catastrophe intensifies, financial institutions supporting fossil fuel companies must take action and adopt more aggressive policies and strict implementation standards on climate and human rights concerns. 

Financial institutions must act quickly to invest in a Just Transition to a decentralized, clean energy future that supports communities, human and Indigenous rights, and workers who have been reliant on the fracking industry to comply with the Paris Agreement, their internal climate change commitments, and international human rights laws.