Impact of Hydrofracking on Local Communities: Guest Deborah Goldberg, Earth Justice

Written by Jan Schlichtmann. Posted in Environmental, Recent Shows, Videos

Published on November 05, 2011 with No Comments


By Erica H. Mattison, Correspondent

The process of fracking doesn’t just cause rocksto splinter – it shatters the well-being and beauty of

communities.  There are too many doubts about this unconventional practice for the public to have confidence in it.  While drilling companies spend money to convince us all is well with these wells, communities are rising up to put the brakes on before more damage is done.

Hydrofracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. A well is drilled and a solution is injected to capture gas out of shale rock deep in the earth; the high pressure that is used fractures the rock and releases gas.  And the practice is expected to grow.  According to a study by the Energy Information Administration, shale gas is projected to make up over 20% of U.S. natural gas supply by 2020.[1]  Fracking refers not only to the actual extraction, but also the land clearance, the waste production, and transmission of the gas.

Fracking results in the industrialization of communities.  The landscape is ravaged and truck traffic increases air pollution.  Goodbye to the quiet, rural areas beloved for their serenity, fresh air, and clean water.  And this isn’t just in the U.S. – Canadian ranchers are also feeling the effects.[2]  And in London, a study conducted by an energy company engaged in fracking revealed that fracking was the likely cause of earthquake tremors.[3]

In addition, fracking is connected to environmental justice.  Do you think wealthy communities are going to be the sites for this clear-cutting and drilling?  Unlikely!  Economically depressed areas are more susceptible to fracking operations, where the promises of revenue from leasing the land are especially attractive.  Hundreds of landowners are now regretting that they leased their land.

While some people would lead you to believe fracking makes good economic sense, it actually has negative consequences for the communities where the fracking takes place.  These towns end up with a temporary swell in population, but no corresponding increase in funding for public services.  Imagine if your town’s population grew by 15% tomorrow due to temporary workers, but without additional public safety or other services.  If you don’t believe it, take a look at the spike in law enforcement issues in states such as Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

If you believe to this guy, you’d think fracking is the best thing since sliced bread.  He portrays the practice as safe, responsible, and protected.  In this ad, notice the trees and the emphasis on how safe, clean, and secure fracking supposedly is.  But I don’t see many trees left here.  The spirited “The Fracking Song,” and the more subdued 60-Minutes also show a practice that isn’t so innocuous.  And if you think where you live isn’t going to be directly impacted by fracking, think again.  There is exploration or production taking place in over 30 U.S. states.[4]

A recent report prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy calls for transparency and actions to reduce environmental and safety risks of fracking.[5]  We can see why transparency is necessary when we consider that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had to subpoena Halliburton in order to get the company to report the chemicals it uses in its fracking activity.  The EPA is about to study potential risks to drinking water supplies, and – against the wishes of drillers – is looking to develop national standards, instead of leaving pollution regulation up to the individual states.[6]







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