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).

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.