A Major Conflict of Interest

gaslandJosh Fox lives in Pennsylvania above the Marcellus Shale.  Fracking has taken off in this area and when he received a letter containing an invitation to lease his land for large sums of money to an oil and gas company, he decided to do some research.  That research came in the form of the, Academy Award nominated, Gasland documentary.

After watching the documentary, I decided to complete my own research.  There are many people that are touting the positive affects of hydraulic fracturing.  Indeed, there are many positives: less reliance on foreign oil, money and jobs in regions that have recently seen a large decline due to the failing coal industry, etc.  I’m not convinced that these benefits outweigh the long-term affects of fracking.

In Gasland, Josh Fox highlights the way oil and gas companies have been operating.  In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, oil and gas companies were given many exemptions from reporting the chemicals they use while fracking.  They were exempt from the Clean Air Act and many other EPA regulations.  Coincidentally, Dick Cheney, the vice president who pushed for the act’s passage, benefitted greatly from it.  Cheney was working for Halliburton, an oil and gas company, before becoming vice president.  Halliburton continues to profit from the fracking boom as well as the war in Iraq (most oil contracts were given to Halliburton after the U.S. invasion of Iraq).

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FracTracker Alliance has a great number of maps showing the current number of active wells in the US.

This is the most terrifying aspect of the fracking boom, our government is turing a blind eye to it.  Large energy companies will always do what is best for their bottom lines.  This is understandable and encouraged in a capitalist economy.  I have no problem with it.  Our government on the other hand has the task of ensuring the safety and prosperity of its people.  When companies encroach on this and impede the ability of people to live quality lives, the government should step in to solve the problem.

During the Industrial Revolution, many cities across Europe and the United States were filling with dust and grime throughout the atmosphere.  Not until local and national legislatures took action did this begin to stop.  Now, we can breathe easy in large cities because of regulations that were put in place to ensure that factories and large companies don’t excessively pollute the air.  It is the responsibility of our government to protect its people but that is not happening today with the fracking boom.  Many in our government are in cahoots with the oil and gas lobby organizations, a major conflict of interest.

Many studies have shown what some in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming have known for many years, fracking is polluting one of our most precious natural resources: water.  The most terrifying aspect is that the leaders of our country are doing nothing about this.  Eventually, our water will become more scarce than oil and natural gas.  Once that day comes, we will be fighting for our livelihoods not for cheaper energy prices.  We are destroying the one resource that many countries are already fighting over.  This issue will not be resolved over night but if our government continues to turn a blind eye to the negative aspects of fracking, our country will be in a more dire state than we are without fracking.

Top Outdoor Podcasts

Podcasts that inspire people to go outside and provide news about the environment.

A couple of years ago, I was on my way to the campsite and realized that I had two hours left before I would arrive.  Already exhausted and tired of listening to the radio, I decided to look up some podcasts about the outdoors the next time I stopped.  Below are my absolute favorite podcasts that speak to nature and how we use it.  Below is a quick synopsis of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis.  They are listed in no particular order.

Dirtbag Diaries

11396The Dirtbag Diaries is a podcast about people that have a passion for adventure, the outdoors, and travel.  It follows different people who are doing things that honor the outdoors.  It’s set on the theme of the campfire story.  We all have great stories to tell about our outdoor adventures and this podcast offers some great ones! From a woman who left her 9-5 office job to work as a bartender in Antarctica to many other people who have done similar things, the podcast never disappoints.  Each episode is usually no longer than 30 minutes which makes listening to it frequently easy.  There are also many episodes that Dirtbag Diaries calls “Shorts” that are obviously much shorter than their typical 30-minute episodes.

Dirtbag Diaries is sponsored by Patagonia, REI, Fireside Provisions, and etc.  It is a production of Duct Tape Then Beer.

Living on Earth

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This is by far the best show for current news on the environment.  Think of “Living On Earth” as a news program but only producing stories about the environment, natural world, or climate change.  Produced by Public Radio International, it has a lot of major production quality and tells that stories from all over the world.  “PRI’s Environmental News Magazine” showcases in depth reporting, compelling story-telling, and quality interviews.

Outside/In

outside-inOutside/In is a “show about the natural world and how we use it” and comes from another public radio station: New Hampshire Public Radio.  This podcast shares stories about people in the natural world and how they interact with their environment.  There is lots of great in-depth reporting that compels us to continue to protect our most precious resource.  Recent episodes have highlighted trail maintenance crews, the history and current issues with whaling and helping to save whales from fishing lines, and whether or not Pokemon Go is actually a positive thing in the fight to save the planet.

Sounds of the Trail

_JzBx5QZSounds of the Trail follows a group of thru-hikers every season.  No matter what trail, it explains the personal stories of thru hikers: why they decided to take on such a hike, what their favorite trail food is, and why their feet are so sore.  Hikers record their testimonies on their own while they are on the trail and each episode is another saga into the lives of various hikers from an eclectic background.  If you are thinking about completing a thru-hike, I would definitely take a listen to some of the stories of the 2016 contributors.

Let me know what you guys think of these podcasts or reach out with any I may have missed!  I just found out about Outside Magazine’s podcast and look forward to giving that a try!