Suggested Title: More Harm than Good – Fracking and Drilling Hurt the Marginalized Communities Especially HardIf you live in the United States, you’ve heard about fracking and drilling nightmares. From clouded, dirty water to high cancer rates to death, more and more people are raising their voices about the horrors of the industry. Its impact on the environment is also undeniable.
Heartbreaking narratives are released each day that document the struggle of those impacted by fracking. The Guardian recently reported on Veronica Kronvall, Ponder, Texas resident, whose dream home was turned into a health hazard only four years after purchase. The market price of her home decreased drastically, but that was nothing compared to the consistent pain she was in from nausea, headaches, and nosebleeds. All this only began to happen after a natural gas company set up wells behind her home. These stories and nightmare living situations are consistent with drilling and fracking, yet somehow fracking continues to edge its way into American backyards.It leaves many in a state of wonder as to why these industries continue to permeate neighborhoods.
Although 51% of Americans oppose fracking, a number that has grown in the past few years, the fear that drives that opposition is the idea that fracking might show up in their backyards. But who does that impact? Studies are overwhelmingly showing that the citizens that are hit hardest by drilling and fracking are poor and marginalized communities. Fracking’s Impact on the Health and EnvironmentThe most immediate impact on these communities can be witnessed in their environment. While there are the less likely hazards of potential gas-related explosions, air pollution, and water consumption in places that are already water deficient, one of the most noticeable changes in home environment centers around groundwater. Contamination of groundwater, often showing itself as murky water that tests positive for heavy metals.
Water will also contain a foul smell and taste. For families who cannot move, this often means buying gallons of bottled water weekly – as even showering in water contaminated by fracking can be hazardous to health. For families with enough money, fracking showing up in their neighborhood is a financial pain. They must spend gas money to drive and buy uncontaminated water, their medical bills often skyrocket from the health issues that their families face, and for many with the resources, this means selling their house for a low market price to move somewhere safer. For families without the means to do this, however, this means a medical and environmental anguish.
Fracking and Marginalized CommunitiesFlint, Michigan is a name that comes to mind when people think about the destruction of fracking. What many are only beginning to find out is that Flint is, by census records, the poorest city in the United States. Additionally, 54.8% of Flint residents are black, according to the 2010 census. Residents of Flint, like Jackie Pemberton, are faced daily with the harsh reality of being poor in a place contaminated by fracking.
She knew what was in the water and did not want to drink it. However, she eventually had to once her modest income prevented her from buying uncontaminated water. She is not alone in this reality, and the impacts on the health of Flint are only one city in many that reflect an alarming statistical trend – that fracking impacts marginalized communities in the United States disproportionately more than any other type of community.
A study done of Pennsylvania residents, a state wrought with fracking because of its large shale beds, indicated that of all the communities surveyed, poor communities had significantly higher fracking exposure rates than any other communities in Pennsylvania. Reasons could be due to the purported job opportunities that fracking promises to bring or just a general inability to move away from it. Whatever the reason, when coupled with the health issues and other costs that contaminated communities bring, fracking ends up bringing more harm than good to poor areas — ones without the resources to clean up the mess caused by the procedural destruction of their homes.
Fracking is an American IssueAmericans have a duty to care for their fellow citizens. It is a value that the nation was founded on, and it is something that many have turned a blind eye to. This care now needs to extend to our environment and our communities.
Fracking is an environmental issue. We’ve already seen the way it destroys once-clean water sources and impacts the land. For a source of energy that is as grossly inefficient as gas, an industry that leaks enough of its resources to power three million houses yearly, the impact on the environment is irreparable. But when it comes to the impact on American families, it is almost criminal. While focus begins to turn to more renewable options to power our country, Americans need to say no to fracking for environmental and societal justice.