The term fracking has been a word used a lot in the news lately. But do you really know all that is involved in the complicated process? According to wilderness.org, fracking, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, is the process of removing natural gas by drilling deep into the Earth. The drilling is done with a combination of water, sand and chemicals that breaks apart the shale rock below to release the gas. It seems like a simple process, and just the solution we need to eliminate coal and oil, correct? Well, not quite.
Unfortunately, the necessary environmental standards are not in place to regulate fracking practices, leading to dangerous consequences. Because of the pressure of the procedure, gas wells have been known to crack, allowing the chemicals to leak into the local groundwater supply. The wastewater from completed procedures can also leak into local rivers and pose a dangerous threat to wildlife because of the contaminants it contains. The most severe drawback to fracking is that the chemicals used in the process are dangerous, with some known to cause cancer. Also, federal regulations don’t require companies to reveal what is in their fracking fluids, preventing us from knowing what is being leaked into our groundwater.
In his documentary film Gasland, the director, Josh Fox, stands up to the natural gas company that tried to lease his land for fracking, while also revealing the stories of others around America who have been affected by fracking. Fox travels across the country, but finds the same problems in each location where fracking has occurred. Some of the troubles included health problems, discolored and dirty water, and even a water tap that could be set on fire. In response to his attack, the natural gas industry created a short film to “expose” Fox, ultimately trying to prove that fracking is a safe practice. However, Fox and HBO rebutted with Gasland II to further investigate the flaws of the natural gas industry. Gasland II explains how fracking is one of the most significant environmental issues facing our nation in a battle of business versus people.
Although fracking is not currently practiced in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has allowed fracking wastewater into New Jersey to be treated and disposed of. If this water is not fully decontaminated or leaks before treatment, our water systems can become compromised. To learn what you can do and hear more about how fracking affects our Earth, come see Gasland II on Feb. 11 or Feb. 12 in Sweigart 115 at 7 p.m. A brief discussion will follow the film. All films in the Rider Green Film Series are free and open to the public.
Printed in the 2/5/14 edition.