Public Herald & The Daily Show
Impacted residents of the most heavily drilled and fracked county in the largest shale gas extraction zone in the United States – the Marcellus Shale – appeared in a segment of The Daily Show on Comedy Central March 27th.
There isn’t much that’s funny about fracking – the toxin-laced technology used to extract methane, or natural gas – except maybe for the ‘funny business’ that seems to surround it. But The Daily Show managed to poke fun anyway.
Public Herald spoke with many impacted residents who might have appeared in The Daily Show’s satirical episode on fracking, but only a few interviewed. (Thanks Dan Natt, Christine Pepper, Carolyn Knapp, and Carol French for braving the bright lights and cameras.)
Others feared backlash from pro-fracking people in the community, or worse, having their suffering made fun of. Some impacted residents have signed gag-orders in settlements with gas companies and are legally prohibited from talking about their water contamination at all.
The Daily Show producers were clear – they wanted well-documented water contamination cases, and in Bradford County there are many. None of the data and facts Public Herald provided about problems from fracking were included in the video, but you can see them for yourself below.
Public Herald’s #fileroom Project
Public Herald has gathered 285 cases of citizen water complaints related to unconventional oil and gas drilling (aka fracking) in Bradford County alone and has made them public for all to see. Just visit the #fileroom at PublicFiles.org. If you’d like to volunteer for the File Team of this transparency project, email Melissa@publicherald.org.
Doing The Research
If you’ve done any amount of research, or perhaps seen Triple Divide, you might not find it hard to write a few jokes about fracking yourself. I mean, we are talking about an industry that claims to be “safe” while boasting the highest worker injury and mortality rates the industry’s ever had. Anya Litvak reported that John Snawder, a research toxicologist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, stated “that when things go wrong in the oil and gas fields, it’s much more likely to be a ‘DRT’ injury — ‘Dead Right There.’”
And then there are all those pesky other problems with fracking – like earthquakes, pipeline explosions, and well fires (oh my!). (See “Benefits of Fracking” video above.) Death and quakes aside, there’s also air pollution and water contamination which also have both short term and long lasting effects.
Fracking Benefits Don’t Include Justice
But to be fair, there are benefits to fracking for natural gas too. It just depends on who you are, and who you care about.
If you own a lot of land and lease to fracking companies, you have a lot of money to gain. If you live in New York City, for example, and enjoy the warming benefits of natural gas energy in your home, then you gain as well. But even if you gain, there is someone, somewhere, who is losing – property value, quality of life, safe drinking water, their health, or the health of their children.
You either care about those costs, or you don’t. If you do, hopefully you’ll do something to help. Like donating fresh water to those who no longer have it. (Right now Public Herald is talking with three families without water and can link serious donors with families in need.)
The American pledge of allegiance may end with “justice for all” but there’s no justice in the shale fields. Sure, there’s money for some, but there’s no justice.
Pro-fracking Activist Lies On Daily Show
Despite repeated claims by natural gas advocates like Marita Noon in “The Benefits of Fracking,” fracking is anything but safe. Neither is surgery, boxing, or riding a motorcycle, and people still do it. But unlike boxing, which puts oneself and a willing competitor at risk, fracking problems affect people who often don’t have a choice, receive no benefits, and instead inherit only the damage.
Fracking has real problems that, instead of being remedied and prevented from recurring, are being ignored, covered up, and simply denied by pro-fracking activists whose blind faith (and big paycheck) is little more than hypocritical cliché.
To Ms. Noon: Saying “fracking is safe” and that companies could not do any better is a lie and no amount of whining about comedic “waterboarding” can take it back.
Carolyn Knapp, who has helped friends and family deal with water pollution from fracking in Bradford County responded, “Marita Noon should come live with us for a while. Our entire lives feel like waterboarding.”
Read the Public Herald investigation that convinced The Daily Show to visit Bradford County, “DEP Manipulates Law, Leaves Family Without Water.”
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