“What the Fr*ck is Going on?”

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The other day, in my journalism class, my professor showed us this video that’s an explainer for hydraulic fracturing – better known as hydrofracking. I thought it was a really fun and catchy video, which was effective in its message. You all should take a look at it!

It doesn’t give too much information in depth about hydrofracking and the harmful effects in can have on the environment and our lives, but it does make you think twice about what the oil companies are really doing and mention some overall concepts. The video challenges people’s beliefs about fracking, especially since the drilling industry controls a significant amount of the information people hear and to which they have access.

This website, which explains the process of fracking in more detail, is also a really interactive and interesting resource for information to learn more about fracking.

Unfortunately, many people favor the drilling because they are presented with the economic benefits of it, and think that it will bring many jobs to their towns. The drilling companies convince people that they are responsibly drilling and are following procedures to make sure the fracking is completely safe. A lot of people don’t realize how many toxic chemicals are used in the process, and how much their water supply and health, let alone the environment, are at risk. Even I didn’t realize the huge amount of oil companies breaking the rules and regulations in place to make the process a little less harmful to the environment and people’s health simply to benefit their bottom line.

A few years ago, I canvassed for Environment New York to prevent drilling in the Utica or Marcellus Shale in upstate New York. I learned a lot about the effects of fracking and the different arguments people use to support or oppose it. Most importantly, I learned about the specific harms is can and has caused in other parts of the country where corporations are already hydrofracking. A study by the Environment New York Research & Policy center stated that:

“According to estimates by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the process of establishing a well and running it for the first year produces emissions in the nearby vicinity, which include: 70,000 pounds of smog-forming emissions; 90,400 pounds of carbon monoxide; 4,800 pounds of sulfur dioxide and combustion soot; and, 440 pounds of toxic air pollutants such as benzene.”

In New York, there has been a moratorium preventing drilling since 2013, and just last December Governor Cuomo banned fracking in the state for good. While this is a huge success for environmental organizations in New York and for the well-being of the state overall, this is unfortunately not the case everywhere.

Ironically, as I was in the midst of writing this article, one of the speaker’s for our class – Deborah Goldberg, from Earthjustice – spoke to us deeply about hydrofracking and how it effects our health, the environment, the economy, and the lives of other mammals and living species on and off land around the world. She brought into light that most of the effects of this fracking will become clearer to the public within the next few years. However, I also gained hope from her when she said there have been significant advancements through litigation and policy in creating more regulations and implementing local and state-wide bans on fracking.

I didn’t realize that there was more information coming forth about specific stories and cases of how fracking has negatively impacted people who are close to the wells and ponds where the waste is stored. I was aware of the non-disclosure agreements that prevented people from speaking about these effects especially in reaching settlements with the corporations controlling the hydrofracking.

Though, I did not realize that things have been slowly changing. I wasn’t very hopeful about things changing soon, especially with the amount of control and money these oil and drilling corporations have, but Deborah really helped me see that there has been more success recently in suing these companies and more so in getting regulations against fracking in place.

Hopefully these changes and regulations won’t take as long as the regulations for the tobacco industry took place to be enforced. Hopefully people will realize the harms of hydrofracking. Hopefully people will see that our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it.