Fire on tap

It doesn’t take a genius to know that tap water is not meant to catch on fire. Yet that is exactly what has happened to perhaps hundreds of residents who live near natural gas drilling stations.

Natural gas has been billed as a “clean” and inexpensive form of energy. But, when it is extracted from the ground by the a process called fracking, it can contaminate nearby water supplies, pollute the air and cause serious negative health impacts for both the humans and animals who live nearby.

And, as many who live near fracking sites have determined, their water not only looks, smells and tastes funny, but it also can be lit on fire.

So many say they want clean energy–but what people really mean is they want clean energy as long as it doesn’t cost too much. Unfortunately, everything has a cost. The question is when you pay. Natural gas may initially appear less expensive than say wind energy. But is it still cheaper once the costs from things like the human health toll from air pollution and water contamination and the destruction of nearby watersheds and the release of mercury into the air are included?

Josh Fox’s documentary GasLand, about natural gas extraction by means of a hydraulic drilling process called “fracking,”

Congress exempted fracking fluids from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005.

When measuring cost, we must include these external hidden fees. To neglect to do so paints an inaccurate picture of the true expense of polluting our environment, ill-paying workers and damaging human health.

–By Jennifer E. Cooper