Imagine it is a hot sunny day and the neighborhood boy that you pay to cut your grass is done for the day. Before paying him you offer him a glass of water to quench his thirst. To your surprise the water that flows from the kitchen tap smells of toxic chemicals and has a strange snap crackle pop noise to it. The telephone rings and in utter confusion you answer it to find Mrs. Jones, a woman who lives up the street, in a hysteric. She claims to have set her rose bushes on fire while simultaneously smoking her brand of chose cigarettes and watering the plants with the hose that is connected to her house. Immediately, you know something is wrong and must contact someone for help. After making a few phone calls to the local authorities, they transfer your call to the local water department. However, the community you live in runs off of individually-owned and operated wells, so the water department is of no help. Eventually this becomes a revolving door of unanswered questions and lives are put in danger.
This type of scenario is a real life problem for many people living in areas of the United States where hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is done. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a rapidly growing industry in the United States as the campaign for energy independence continues to takes off. Currently there are thirty four states where hydraulic fracturing is done including: California, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont.
The process of extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing is not a new concept; however, new technological development and government legislations have made it a very fast growing lucrative business. According to Josh Fox in his 2010 documentary Gasland, in 2005, the Bush/Cheney Administration passed an energy bill, known as the Halliburton Loophole, which exempts natural gas drilling companies from the Clean Water Act put in place by President Nixon in 1972. This legislation means that companies are not required to disclose chemicals used during its hydraulic fracturing process. This bill being passed also means that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is no longer in charge or allowed to monitor the actions of companies that fack for natural gas.
Fox mentions in his film that it has been said that America sits on a “virtual ocean of natural gas,” and is often referred to as the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” a corporate gold mine. Families across the nation are being offered one hundred thousand dollars to lease their land to companies for the use of hydraulic fracturing. For most who have taken the money with aspirations in mind of paying off student loans or an early retirement, quickly realize they have received way more than what they had originally bargained for. In most incidents the environmental effects are instant, resulting in flammable water, headaches, dizziness, weight loss, cancer, sickly house pets and livestock. However, the worst side effect of fracking on families, in my opinion, is the non-disclosure agreement signed when the lease of the family’s property is finalized. This non-disclosure agreement has left people terrified to reach out for help and has left many to live a life of entrapment. Without the regulation of companies performing hydraulic fracturing, the future of America’s citizens and environmental health is put in servere danger.
For those who are interested in learning more about hydraulic fracturing I suggest watching the 2010 documentary “Gasland: Can You Light Your Water On Fire?” Fox also writes a blog and organizes events against fracking companies that can be followed on his website: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/.
“Josh Fox’s film “Gasland” will save the American water, air, and soil from being abused by corporate greed,” says anti-fracking activist, Yoko Ono.