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If the Fracking Elephant could speak…

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Would the Elephant say Fracking is Safe?

There’s an Elephant in the room who holds dark secrets about our society…what if it could talk?

A September 18th article by Dan Gearino of Columbus Dispatch gives us an in-room perspective about fracking at the White House, “Obama former energy secretary says fracking can be done safely.” Former US Energy Sec. Steven Chu, who presented at an industry event in Columbus recently, compares the risks of fracking to the building trade.

“When you built buildings in the past…with industrial accident and construction deaths, we were saying, ‘That’s part of the business’…Nowadays it’s not part of the business.”

First, apparently “accident” (incident would be more accurate) and death are no longer a part of the business. Second, who does Mr. Chu mean when he says “you” and “we?” Third and most importantly, comparing fracking to the building trade is like comparing anti-freeze to alka-seltzer, or alka-seltzer to fracking. (Like The Colbert Report did.)

It’s one thing, or more like half-of-a-thing, to talk about the risks to oil and gas workers and quite another to talk about the risks, let alone real life impacts, to innocent bystanders, families and communities suffering the true, externalized costs of fracking industrialization.

At least Chu (and Gearino by quoting Chu) acknowledges that there will be death when it comes to fracking – worker deaths – which are just “part of the business.” But then again, Chu couldn’t leave the room without mentioning it since the oil and gas industry saw the highest number of worker deaths in its history just last year, something the industry itself attributes to fracking expansion.

But in an article about fracking’s “safety,” Gearino gives no mention to the ‘other’ risks inherent to the business, such as water contamination, disposal of radioactive waste, and loss of adjacent property value. These costs are paid by innocent, law-abiding, tax-paying Americans like David Barndt, Jim Harkins and Judy Eckert, whom our leaders and mainstream media, it seems, would prefer remained the ‘invisible elephants’ of our society rather than the honestly acknowledged collateral damage.

Had Gearino or anyone else at Columbus Dispatch bothered to attend the screening of Triple Divide, an investigative documentary about the inherent and ‘external’ costs of fracking, which played at Gateway Theater on September 10th, they would have seen Barndt’s, Harkin’s and Eckert’s stories…and many more Elephants in the shale fields. But the Dispatch didn’t even run a press release of the event. Nor did the Youngstown Vindicator, after multiple attempts to contact staff prior to the screening of Triple Divide in that city on September 22nd.

To be fair, the Ohio-based, anti-fracking environmental news curator Ecowatch didn’t publish about the Triple Divide Ohio Tour either, despite receiving multiple announcements from Public Herald and statewide NGO’s. That’s not to say Triple Divide has gone unnoticed. The 10 date, 10 location Ohio Tour ends this week but kicks off a national screening tour across shale states of the U.S. to spread the deeply shocking voice of the fracking Elephant. Are you listening?

For tour dates see TripleDivideFilm.org/screenings.