Fracking is a process of injecting water and explosives into shale bedrock in order to extract natural gas. It has been the subject of a recent major documentary film, “GasLand” (nominated for an Academy Award) and a feature article in this month’s Discovery magazine.
As you can see in the “GasLand” link, the U.S. is sitting on a huge reservoir of natural gas which is capable of helping in it’s goal of becoming less dependent on foreign oil. There is a huge amount of pressure to develop these resources for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that there’s a fortune to be made.
GasLand discloses that the process of fracking disturbs the ground water so much that river systems are contaminated and drinking water is so affected that some will actually light on fire. Needless to say, the large companies drilling and extracting are denying that there is any problem, even though several homes have had their wells explode.
Now, the current article in Discovery, “Fracking Nation”, indicates that radioactive materials trapped in layers of shale along with the natural gas, is definitely being brought to the surface to add to all of the other forms of contamination.
During the Bush administration, the Haliburton Company, under the leadership of the man often referred to as the Darth Vader of politics, Vice President Dick Chaney, promoted and passed legislation exempting natural gas drilling from any of the regulations of the Environmental Agency or the Clean Water Act. As a result, natural gas drillers are free to abuse the environment to any degree they wish in order to do business. That includes ruining the lives of hundreds of citizens, compromising their health and turning vast areas of the environment into contaminated zones.
This is what happens when right wing politicians are allowed to remove regulation from industry. There is a real need for natural gas and other resources in the U.S. Resources should be extracted where possible. But the method of extraction in this case has been compared to a random “free for all”, with little or no thought given to anything but the bottom line of the profit margin. The environmental impact is staggering, and it’s just started.
Once again, Canada, which has its own natural gas reserves, needs to learn from the mistakes of its neighbors to the south. Industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself. Case in point may be our own situation with the Oil Sands.