Remember the national debate on the Keystone Pipeline? The protests, the online petitions and the political mudslinging? Well, get ready because a similar debate is brewing around hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking). Although, President Obama did include natural gas development in his January State of the Union Address, Senate Republicans lack confidence in President Obama to move quickly and keep the fracking industry unregulated. Prompting Senator Inhofe to introduce a bill, The Fresh Act, to “ensure that states – not the federal government – have the sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing within their state boundaries.”
So what’s the debate here?
Same as usual, Safety vs. Profit.
Energy companies repeatedly assure us that fracking is safe and poses no documented risks to human health. Energy companies claim there is no confirmed evidence that it contaminates water wells or emits an alarming presence of volatile organic compounds that can elevate the risk of respiratory problems, reproductive issues and cancer. There’s no direct connection, energy companies claim. Therefore there is no need to regulate fracking under the Clean Air Act or Safe Drinking Water Act, despite the fact that these laws have regulated almost every other industry since the 1970’s! AND, of course there’s no need to for the EPA or the public to know what chemicals are being injected into the soil, even if that soil is on their property. Regulations like these would simply slow down our progress, and that’s “un-American”!
Yeah, we’ve all heard the rhetoric, but a lot of us have seen GASLAND too. We watched the oil pouring out into the Gulf Coast for 87 days and although BP said Gulf Coast seafood is perfectly safe to eat, about 119 days after the spill, did you really believe them? The fact is, the majority of us want stricter fracking regulations to ensure our own safety.
As part of the generation most impacted by the mass media. I wonder, what if the Mayor of Amity Island took Martin Brody & Richard Dreyfuss’ advice and closed the beach down despite profits from the tourist season? Or, what if the Captain of the Titanic heeded the seven iceberg warnings by slowing down instead of being blinded by power and profit? We’ve seen this scenario play out outside of Hollywood as well. The Deep Water Horizon, Bhopal and countless other accidents have cost us lives when individuals in power compromise safety over profits. Is the natural gas industry any different? The top execs in the energy industry have an opportunity to make a lot of money here and we the people need to have oversight of the industry to protect our health and safety!
So let the oil and gas companies scream JOBS but we, the American people, value the health and safety of our families a little more. President Obama needs to impose regulations on the natural gas industry, close the Halliburton loophole and be sure not to let energy companies compromise our health over profits. If fracking is not a risk to our air and water, it should have no problem adhering to the regulations within the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.