Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” is a process that mixes massive amounts of fresh water into a poisonous cocktail of toxic chemicals and silica sand, and then forces it into wells drilled thousands of feet into the earth to extract oil or natural gas trapped underground. Energy companies use millions of gallons of fresh water per well to force natural gas or oil to the surface.
Fracking has disrupted towns across the U.S. and Europe. The methane released from fracking seeps into the water supply and is so concentrated that people can light the gas coming out of their water faucets on fire. Many communities have already reported serious health problems among children, the elderly and farm animals. This whole process poisons the underground water supply, causes cancer, brain damage and birth defects in humans and animals, and can trigger earthquakes. The fracking concoction contains over 300 chemicals that are poisonous and cancerous to the skin, the brain, the lungs, the heart, the stomach – just about every part of the human body. Millions of gallons of these toxins have been dumped across the country, poisoning communities.
These toxins were never a secret. In 2005, supported by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, energy corporations united to change federal laws in order to allow fracking. The Energy Policy Act was passed, exempting fracking from restrictions in the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act, allowing energy companies to poison the water supply without having to comply with any federal restrictions.
Because of fracking, the U.S. hit a 25-year high for energy production in 2013. And by 2015, the U.S. is expected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer due to the acceleration of fracking across the country. The U.S. plans to use these new energy supplies as further leverage to impose its economic interests around the world.
Fracking is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., already having spread across fifteen states, from New York to California. The driving force behind this growth is pure greed. In drought-stricken Texas, the same amount of water it takes to grow $200,000 worth of crops can be used to frack $2.5 billion worth of gas or oil. Fracking methods have already spread to 15 countries around the world as energy companies race for the last deposits of oil and natural gas.
In California, energy companies want to frack the Monterey Shale deposits, an area covering 1,750 square miles. Opening this land up to fracking would destroy the habitat, further poison the air and water, and dump catastrophic levels of carbon into the atmosphere, three times as much carbon emissions as expected from the Canadian tar sands set to supply the Keystone XL pipeline.
People have begun to resist the oil companies’ fracking drive. Moratoriums and bans have been put in place in many cities across the U.S and internationally in France, Ireland, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Romania and more. But an even bigger fight must be waged to ban fracking completely.
Fracking is truly an insane process of an insane system.