There’s a serious fracking problem going on in coal mining towns around the country like Andes, NY and Canton, PA. I’m talking about the environmentally dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, for short.
Fracking is used to get oil and natural gas and coal seam gas from deep underground to the surface so it can then be used for energy. First, a well is drilled. And then fracking starts. Hydraulic fracturing involves high pressure injection of millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals into the well. To direct quote a website that knows a heckuva lot more about fracking than me, “the pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.”
It all sounds well and good. Just another way to get much needed energy out of the ground. But the problem with fracking, or, the fracking problem, if you will, is that the hydraulic fracturing fluid rises up through the layers of rock that it’s supposed to stay down below and pollutes surface water, including much of the water that ends up coming out of taps and faucets. In April, fracking had to be suspended in the Alleghany Mountains after thousands of gallons of drilling fluid spilled out of a major well in Canton, PA, poisoning surrounding streams and waterways.
In the Catskills town of Andes, NY, another place where the hydraulic fracturing companies want to drill, famous residents are speaking up about this fracking issue. Movie star Mark Ruffalo crusades against fracking at town meetings. And New York Times online columnist Stanley Fish devoted an entire column to the bravery of his fellow Andes residents at a town meeting speaking out against a hydraulic fracturing company spokesman in attendance who was ready to sucker in townies with promises of (probably non-existent) wealth and jobs. I thought such awesome community activism only took place on TV, like the time Zack Morris and the Saved by the Bell gang kept that evil oil company from drilling on the Bayside High School campus or when Lisa Simpson protested that charlatan who wanted to bring his high priced monorail to Springfield.
Some would say that Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Fish, and their fellow Catskill citizens are throwing around the old NIMBY argument. One, even if they are, what’s wrong with that? Worrying about what gets thrown in your own backyard is not a bad thing. And, two, fracking isn’t even a NIMBY thing. Hydraulic fracturing, unlike windmills, shouldn’t be in anyone’s backyard. Windmills may be an eyesore, but fracking is a breathing sore and a drinking sore. Somebody needs to stop those frackin’ frackers from fracking up the environment. Otherwise we’ll be living in a fracked up world.