If you Google the phrase “is fracking safe?” the first thing you’ll see is a sponsored link to a gas industry website called EnergyfromShale.org. Below that are lots of contradictory articles citing even more contradictory studies that claim to prove the answer is yes or no.
As we learned with Monsanto and the Keystone XL, before touting the validity of such research, it’s important to follow the money. Who wrote the study? By whom were they hired? And for whom have they worked in the past? Again and again we see that no depth is too low for the fossil fuel industry. Bloated with profit, it uses its financial and political clout to make the numbers reinforce its own PR claims.
The real proof of what the recent fracking boom is doing to our planet and our health can be found in the communities where it actually happens. On farms and ranches, and in small communities across America. These people, regardless of their political persuasion or education level, can hear, see, feel, smell and touch the consequences just by walking out their front door. This evidence, while it may be anecdotal, is impossible to refute, although Big Gas keeps trying.
Sand is a critical part of†the hydraulic fracturing method of oil and gas extraction. After drilling down into shale, the rock is fractured by†pumping in a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The sand keeps the cracks propped open so that oil and gas are released. Unfortunately, sand is mostly silica, and breathing in silica is one of the oldest and most dangerous workplace hazards in the world. A recent investigation by OSHA found that workers in the natural gas industry are being exposed to massive amounts of silica dust, a condition that puts them at risk for†serious diseases like silicosis and cancer.
Poisoned Air and Soil
Despite the shocking visual a flaming faucet provides, many gas companies have denied culpability. Their excuse? Maybe the methane was there before they started fracking. To eliminate this uncertainty, anti-fracking activists in New York State are conducting one of the first†methane baseline assessments on an area that will soon be home to a†natural gas compressor station, according to EarthTechling.†Itís hoped that by establishing a baseline measurement of ambient methane, residents will be able to prove fracking’s negative effects on air and water. Doing so would further prove that a recent trend of sick and dying cattle on land adjacent to fracking operations isn’t an accident.
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