11/17/2011 01:10 pm ET Updated Jan 17, 2012

Fracking In The Mountain State Leaves a Community Scarred

West Virginia is home to one of the most destructive coal mining practices in the world--mountaintop removal--a process that blows up pristine mountains to lay bare the bituminous coal below. But a new fossil fuel Gold Rush has hit the Mountain State; fracking for natural gas trapped deep in the Marcellus Shale underground. And it has residents and experts worried that its poisonous impacts will leave an even more damaging environmental legacy. NRDC’s Amy Mall has blogged about the many hazards associated with this gas drilling rampage rapidly spreading across the country.     

As thousands of fracking sites spring up like metal mushrooms across the state, angry residents are filling public meetings with a myriad of complaints; streams polluted by what appears to be chemical-laced fracking fluid; busted roads and tractor trailers abandoned along hairpin turns; valuable farmlands gobbled up by gas drilling pads and toxic waste holding ponds that dot the mountainous terrain like gravel-bedded tumors. 


Producer Roshini Thinakaran and cameraman/video editor Zak Wenning, NRDC’s Journey OnEarth documentary team, traveled to West Virginia recently to investigate a raging battle over natural gas development in hard-hit Wetzel County. They found a dramatic community face-off with a fracking industry driven by dollar signs and quick cash propositions.    

But many residents wonder what will be left of their mountain homes after the drillers make their fortunes and leave their equipment behind.