Fracking Up The Future of Pennsylvania
Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
Fracking, or hydraulic gas fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. The process pumps pressurized hazardous chemicals down into the ground which then forces a soup of hazardous chemicals mixed with oil and gas to be extracted from the rock and pumped to the surface. As a result, massive amounts of chemicals are forced into the ground, and massive pressure is created underground, releasing more chemicals, creating the potential for enormous environmental disasters.
Below is a 30 minute video interviewing the makers of a soon to be released documentary, Triple Divide, about the oil and gas industry’s practice of hydraulic gas fracturing in Pennysylvania. In the video, EcoWatch TV’s Stefanie Spear talks with film makers Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman about the film and the consequences of fracking.
The filmmakers discuss some of the immediate impacts that fracking is having on the environment in Pennsylvania, of which, water supply contamination is at the top of the list. Contamination occurs through flow-back pollution in containment ponds, trucking accidents, wastewater treatment, illegal dumping, and well blowouts, as well as pollution of private wells.
The film focuses on investigating the impact of fracking in a region of Pennsylavia called the Triple Divide. This area, where 80% of residents obtain their drinking water from private wells, has been significantly impacted by numerous fracking sites. In the interviews, Pribanic and Troutman discuss how fracking has affected residents’ health, lowered their standard of living, and resulted in financial loss as property and investments are ruined and devalued.
The interview also brings to light the issue of weak enforcement of state regulations regarding pollution. The filmmakers discuss how the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues to issue permits to companies which have already been cited for contaminating the environment. An important point is made that an organization such as the DEP, which profits from issuing permits, does little to stop or punish violators. Often, violators are not even fined. The DEP does not have the funds to pursue legal action against them, hence they are left negotiating clean-up efforts, often at the expense of taxpayers.
Ultimate control is clearly in the hands of the oil and gas companies. State regulating departments are ineffective, at best, in enforcing regulations and fighting the expensive legal teams of multi-nationals giants. The press and media are also in collusion with industry, as they do next to nothing to raise awareness of the issue. Sadly, it appears that it is up to landowners and residents around these sites to seek compensation and justice… at least the ones who can afford it.
Industrial progress resulting in widespread water pollution affects us all, because, we are all connected through our water supply, the oceans, rivers and streams. Pollutants such as microplastics have been traced from your kitchen sink to remote marine environments and stomachs of marine animals. Polluted drinking water close to fracking sites may not affect you today, but the issue may hit closer to home than you think. As the practice of fracking gains momentum worldwide, there is an urgent need to expose and resist this latest industrial nightmare in the making.
About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com, and an avid student of Yoga and life.
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