By now, we’ve all heard about the pitfalls of fracking: it hurts the environment, it ruins the water supply, it damages the health of local residents. Though those reasons should be enough to stop the practice, local communities continue to permit natural gas companies to drill on their land.
However, perhaps towns will take notice of some of the latest research. Food & Water Watch, a consumer rights group, studied fracking counties to determine some of the other, more social downsides to inviting gas companies into their backyards. The group concluded that “the fracking boom has transformed some rural communities into modern versions of Wild West mining towns.”
Here are some of the other fracking-related problems Food & Water Watch identified:
1. Housing Crisis
With a sudden burst of people moving to small towns to work the fracking wells, housing quickly becomes scarce. The short supply and high demand allows property owners to double or even triple the cost of rent, leaving some life-long residents unable to afford to live in town anymore.
2. More People Turn to Public Assistance
While the natural gas employees are generally compensated sufficiently, it’s a fracking community’s other residents that suffer financially. In addition to driving up the cost of housing, the new money in town spurs inflation in other areas. Consequently, poor residents in the community who used to be self-sufficient can no longer provide for themselves in their hometown and must rely on public assistance to get by.
3. Traffic Jams
Small towns that have never needed many roadways suddenly find themselves overloaded with trucks required for day-to-day fracking business. Since trucks must make thousands of trips to haul away hazardous material from each well, they wind up monopolizing the streets. As a result, residents complain of traffic congestion, citing kids unable to get to school on time and emergency vehicles unable to reach critical areas in a timely manner.
4. Truck Crashes
The increased traffic yields increased collisions. Though the national rate of traffic accidents is decreasing, some of the highest rates of vehicular accidents occur in fracking towns. This statistic is especially true for large fracking trucks trying to navigate overcrowded and narrow rural roads. Considering that these trucks carry waste material and natural gas, crashes can be particularly disastrous. Experts estimate that these accidents wind up costing fracking counties an additional $28 million annually.
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