Facts Behind The Daily Show’s Fracking Video

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Public Herald co-founders and Triple Divide investigators Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman appeared in a segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart called ‘The Benefits of Fracking’ on March 27th featuring Aasif Mandvi and impacted residents in Bradford County, the most fracked county in the Marcellus Shale.

Public Herald co-founders and Triple Divide investigators Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman appeared in a segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart called ‘The Benefits of Fracking’ on March 27th featuring Aasif Mandvi and impacted residents in Bradford County, the most fracked county in the Marcellus Shale. From left to right: Jena Friedman, Melissa Troutman, Dan Natt, Aasif Mandvi, Carol French, Carolyn Knapp, Christine Pepper (holding son Chase), Joshua Pribanic.

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.

Screenshot of <a href=

#fileroom map of water contamination complaints in Bradford County, Pa. ” width=”580″ height=”364″ class=”size-large wp-image-19097″ /> Screenshot of #fileroom map of water contamination complaints in Bradford County, Pa.

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.

The Daily Show segment on fracking was shot at the home of Christine and Cory Pepper, who have water problems and live next to a fracked well that’s caused documented drinking water well problems on neighbors’ properties. Carol French, another Bradford Co. resident with water contamination, is looking over her left shoulder as comedian Aasif Mandvi reads his notes.

The Daily Show segment on fracking was shot at the home of Christine and Cory Pepper, who have water problems and live next to a fracked well that’s caused documented drinking water well problems on neighbors’ properties. Carol French, another Bradford Co. resident with water contamination, is looking over her left shoulder as comedian Aasif Mandvi reads his notes.

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.

Pro-fracking activist Marita Noon in a screenshot of Aasif Mandvi’s interview for The Daily Show.

Pro-fracking activist Marita Noon in a screenshot of Aasif Mandvi’s interview for The Daily Show.

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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  • DoryHippauf

    Noon, Marita Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy Executive Director http://www.responsiblenergy.org/ fossil fuel advocacy organization

    Noon, Marita Energy Makes America Great inc.(EMAG) Executive Director http://www.responsiblenergy.org/ Companion organization to Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE)

    Buckner,
    Alaric A. “Buck”
    Citizens’
    Alliance for Responsible Energy
    Board Director
    http://www.responsiblenergy.org/

    Chilton, James K. Jr
    Citizens’
    Alliance for Responsible Energy
    Board Director
    http://www.responsiblenergy.org/

    Collins, Gabe
    Citizens’
    Alliance for Responsible Energy
    Program Services Director
    http://www.responsiblenergy.org/

    Hightower, Mike
    Citizens’
    Alliance for Responsible Energy
    Board Director
    http://www.responsiblenergy.org/

    Longmuir, Gavin
    Citizens’
    Alliance for Responsible Energy
    Board Director
    http://www.responsiblenergy.org/

    Mathis, Mark E.
    Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible
    Energy
    Founder and
    Senior Advisor
    http://www.responsiblenergy.org/

  • thanks, to all for gathering documents and info to expose this dirty, polluting Gas Industry that conveniently hides the problems and truth, but the Truth will prevail….

  • Tim Ruggiero

    As long as the Merchants of Doubt have a voice and a seat at the table, this will be an ongoing battle. Marita Noon doesn’t need to come live there, she knows damn well the real truth. But since she obviously is comfortable being in denial and makes her living off of it, don’t hold your breath waiting for her to show up anytime soon.

  • Patrick

    I actually took a trip to Bradford county last summer. What I found was that for every person who complained about the problems of fracking, there were hundreds who loved it. And for every verified problem, there were thousands. One resident took me to a fracked well on her property. As we were walking to it, we were less than 50 feet away before I actually saw it. It’s not as bad as some would make it seem

    • Bradcores

      No argument from me there are people who love it when you get right down
      to it they love it for them money it is bringing them now. If you are one of the lucky ones you won’t have any contamination problems but if you are one of the unfortunate ones the contamination will more than likely cost you more than you are getting from the royalties. I suggest you visit next time when they are drilling and/or fracking or perhaps visit a storage site for oil and gas wastes. I would also ask that you visit a home that has been impacted by contamination. Even though for now there might seem to be only a small percentage adversely affected in comparison to those that have not been affected, the industry is only in it’s infancy in our region, some say 10% of what they anticipate, so one only needs to multiply this out to see what the amount will eventually become. If you were one of the families that have been impacted, or they were someone close to you , I am sure your point of view would be different,

    • Carol French

      Even blind people are aware of there surroundings. Last year many landowners loved the idea of getting rich. Today, if you were to ask them how they feel about the gas companies, they would blow-up almost as bad as the LeRoy Blow-Out! Many are willing to talk about their experiences now that they have found out the gas companies and our elected officials are out to line their own pockets at our expense.

  • PennaHunters@aol.com

    The only way to stay sane is to ikeep your sense of humor. The deadpan interview by Mr. Mandvi allows people to see the plight of the folks in the the Marcellus Gas Play in Pennsylvania. The folks at http://www.pedf.org are taking a different approach, suing Gov. Corbett for our right to clean air and water as stated in our PA Constitution, Article 1, Section 27. Wish them success in 2014.