What is fracking pollution denial costing us?

In December of 2011, the EPA released a report confirming that water pollution detected in areas near natural gas extraction sites were indeed caused by hydraulic fracking, the process by which the gas is obtained. According to the ProPublica article describing the report, local water samples were found to contain various synthetic compounds, including Benzene, a known carcinogen – all common chemicals in the fracking process. Three years later, fracking is still a heated debate and  the gas companies continue to deny claims of pollution, maintaining the stance that the findings were inconclusive. Meanwhile, the people living in the vicinity of drill sites are continuing to be exposed to these harmful carcinogens, explosive bath water, and discolored drinking water.

What did you find most shocking about this report? What questions were you left with? Judging by the language the EPA used in the report as quoted by the article, there seems to be little scientific doubt that fracking is in fact polluting the water near the drill sites; why do you think the debate is still alive at all three years later? What has been the media’s role in keeping fracking pollution denial alive?

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2 Responses to “What is fracking pollution denial costing us?”

  1. I think I read this article much differently than you did. What I found most unsettling about this piece was the journalist’s use of the term “likely”. As a science major I can’t help but recognize the uncertainty contained within the word “likely” when referring to the connection between two variables. Reading this sort of “uncommitted” language makes me the slightest bit skeptical. I understand that it is really hard to prove anything without a reasonable doubt but just from reading this article I can’t conclude that this EPA investigation proved anything. I would need to take a closer look at the report to properly do so. I could be completely wrong. This investigation could have proved that everything bad we thought about fracking and its consequences is true, but to me the article doesn’t read that way.
    Perhaps this is contributing to the reason why the debate is still alive: people are unwilling to make any sort of move without 100% certainty something bad will happen if they don’t. I feel like that is always the case when money is involved, and in the example of fracking, a lot of money is involved.

  2. What I find most shocking about this report is that there is strong scientific evidence that fracking caused water pollution, and yet the public is not holding the fracking companies accountable. The article considers both sides of the fracking debate, and allows both sides to comment and defend themselves. However, the article declares that there is evidence showing that fracking is harmful, but yet there is no follow up with the fracking companies. There is not questioning of their denial. I understand that correlation does not equal causation, so in some areas of this debate, fracking may not be to blame. However, no one is questioning the correlation. We allow the companies to deny that they are causing any harm, and then move on. That is why I think this debate is still alive three years later because the media and public are not questioning these companies, and holding them accountable for their actions. The media has allowed a the fracking companies to have a platform, and claim they are not to blame without much in depth analysis of the data. If more pressure were placed on these companies, then maybe more answers and truths would come out about the fracking process and results. This article is an example of this, where they fail to ask the difficult but relevant questions.

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