The most common evidence that anti-fracking protesters use is the fact that the fracking fluid is extremely toxic. As I have previously stated, there are over 750 different chemicals that are pumped into the ground under extremely high pressures (Mellino). Not all chemicals are bad, in that there are many other processes that require exuberant amount of chemicals. Fracking, however, is not harmless. Fracking uses some chemicals that are toxic to the body of all plants and animals, so toxic that they are known carcinogens. If the chemicals do not have carcinogenic properties, then some of them are known to cause acute shortness of breath, chemical burns, blindness, or even death.
Of the 750 known chemicals used in fracking fluid, there are the same number, if not more chemicals used in the fluid that have left to be identified. The oil companies found a loophole in governmental policies so that they only have to report a certain number, or a certain percentage, of the chemicals used. One law, Section 313 of the EPCRA authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which is a list of toxic chemicals available to the public that must be reported annually by specific industries and facilities (“Chemicals & Public Disclosure.”). Luckily for the gas and oil companies, they are not included under this TRI, which means under this law they are not obligated to release the contents of their fracking fluid at full disclosure to the public.
The companies, however, did run into difficulty when Josh Fox made the production Gas Land. This film exposed some of the harmful effects of fracking, specifically the leakage of fracking fluid into the ground water supplies of locals. This was seen when he put a match close to the water pouring out of a sink, and the water “caught on fire”. The key in this situation is not that the water itself caught on fire, but that the contents, or contaminants, inside the water caught on fire. These contaminants could be some of the methane (natural gas) that the fracking is used to produce. When there is a leak in the concrete piping, the contents, including the natural gas, can leak into the groundwater supply.
Following the production of this documentary, many decided to attempt to debunk the validity of the film in order to justify the means of the gas companies. One source claimed that Fox overexaggerated all of the facts that he used in order to create a greater impact (“GasLand.”). People would be more weary of the gas companies and hopefully prevent them from drilling in their local land. For sure, Josh Fox was an advocate of the environment, and the debunking articles are backing the gas companies hoping to keep them in business.
After the production of the second GasLand production, GasLand 2, there were more reliable sources that claimed Fox was exaggerating to an extreme, where much of what he was saying was invalid. Forbes wrote an article claiming that Fox was a Technophobe, and was working against the natural progress of the world (Epstein). Many argue that Fox was not against fracking itself, but against the way that fracking is completed in current times. Wind and solar power can go on forever and does not affect the environment negatively whatsoever. Fracking, however, has its positive aspects such as releasing trapped natural gas from deep in marcellus shale formations, but the negatives outweigh the positives for now. Until the positives begin to outweigh the negatives, it is unlikely there will be the support necessary for fracking to continue without resistance. Many sources claim that fracking is becoming safer for the environment; however, until this point it is unlikely fracking will gain the attention that it needs to continue producing large quantities of natural gas.
There is great promise for the fracking process, but as of now, there are too many negative aspects that are more popular than the positive aspects of extracting natural gas.
“Chemicals & Public Disclosure.” FracFocus: Chemical Disclosure Registry, GWPC & IOGCC, 2017, fracfocus.org/chemical-use/chemicals-public-disclosure. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.
Epstein, Alex. “Gasland II’s Luddite Slander Of ‘Fracking’ Is The Latest Technophobe Attack On Progress.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 July 2013, www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/07/19/gasland-iis-luddite-slander-of-fracking-is-the-latest-technophobe-attack-on-progress/#5906b37d3187. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.
“GasLand.” Documentary Case Studies: Behind the Scenes of the Greatest (True) Stories Ever Told, doi:10.5040/9781501300349.ch-007. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.