Fracking Hits the Big Time

In the wake of the hugely popular documentary, “Gasland,” the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” made a big splash on national network TV over the past week – appearing in no fewer than three high profile programs: 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, and even CSI – where it inspired a storyline with fracking as the villain (this one of course was a fictional account, but the others weren’t).

Fracking, the risky gas development method that involves blasting millions of gallons of water mixed with tens of thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into the ground next-door to drinking water supplies, has been increasingly in the spotlight in communities across the country – from Wyoming and Colorado to Ohio and Pennsylvania. That’s because, as currently practiced, natural gas production using fracking is not safe. It’s being implicated in a wide range of serious health and environmental impacts in all 25 states where it’s currently practiced -- from contaminated drinking water, to exploding homes and wells, toxic spills, dead livestock, and even bubbling methane in the Susquehanna River.

Yet big oil and gas corporations continue to storm into communities across America (literally in residents’ backyards) to frack with toxic chemicals, and we still don’t have sufficient safeguards in place to protect us from the consequences.

There is a growing chorus of Americans who’ve had enough of this. They’re concerned about the health and environmental risks of gas production, and the gravity and breadth of the threats they face is what brought fracking to the center stage on network TV this week.

It is our hope that the increasing national attention will help change the narrative on fracking. We need strong safeguards in place to make sure if fracking is done, it’s done safely. And we need to force big oil and gas corporations to play by the same rules as everyone else – including fully adhering to basic laws designed to protect Americans’ health from industrial activity just like this, including the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and toxic waste laws.

After all, communities have a right to protect themselves against powerful outsiders who will be long gone when the bill for damages comes due.