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The Truth About Fracking

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In a recent post here, I described an event that I produced in Syracuse, New York, which brought together disparate anti-fracking groups for a screening of Josh Fox's documentary film Gasland. As one would expect, among the readers who posted here there was a strong level of both support for the event (and any anti-fracking advocacy) and critiques of our effort, typically from gas industry functionaries or labor that supports hydraulic fracturing on behalf of jobs.

Many pro-fracking people posted attacks on Fox and his film, going so far as to state, in no uncertain terms, that his film has been widely and undeniably dismissed for lacking in accurate facts, science and history. I contacted Fox, by email, and asked him to provide me with more information to address the "deniers" who have debunked his assertions.

Josh Fox forwarded to me a detailed response that included the following links:

1- This 2009 piece from ProPublica that refers to a Garfield County, Colorado, study that contradicts certain gas industry assertions about methane in drinking water.

2- This 2011 report from Scientific American that describes significant aquifer contamination from fracking fluids in Wyoming.

3- A 2011 New York Times article that refers to the potential "first crack in the armor" of Rex Tillerson's claims about fracking-related contamination.

4- This article from Food and Water Watch in April of 2012.

5- And this article from a March, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

I've got more if you want it.

I am quite certain that not many minds will be changed here. There are those who believe natural gas is abundant and readily accessible through fracking, that it will create lots of good paying jobs and will contribute to America's energy independence.

Then there are those who believe that fracking is actually the energy industry's most recent opportunity to do to Americans what these companies have been doing to other, economically impoverished and less politically sophisticated peoples all over the globe: to promise them some economic benefit, deliver a pittance in actual compensation, desecrate their environment and then split and leave them the bill.

Unfortunately, in this case, it's not like Shell in Nigeria or Chevron in Ecuador. It's here. In New York State and Pennsylvania and many other areas. And when the gas companies are done blasting and pumping and contaminating, after they've put the gas on the open market and sold it and the workers head home to Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, who do you think they'll hand the bill to for the clean up of that mess? Who will be asked to provide water for cooking, cleaning and drinking for all of those affected?

Gas companies, like LNG, will make huge profits. And what will you get?

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