Pipe dreams of fracking

Last night I went to see Gasland, a documentary about Josh Fox wandering around the United States and talking to people with fracking rigs nearby about what fracking was doing to their land, their water, their health, their animals.  I was expecting to find it interesting, and that I’d feel more sure we should know the impacts of pouring toxic chemicals and enormous amounts of water under high pressure into the earth in order to help it break apart and release natural gas before we expanded it here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

But I found it much more shocking than that.  Industry lobbyists testifying to US politicians that there is no need for regulation of fracking, because there is “no evidence” of any problems, anywhere.  That they shouldn’t have to disclose the chemicals used, because there are no problems.

This is just after we’ve seen Mr Fox talking to dozens of people with water which looks like tea leaves, or concentrated urine, or the oily remnants of a fry up.  Families with water they can set alight, because natural gas is now one of the things coming through their taps.  Pets with hair falling out.  Prize-winning environmental scientists documenting connections between the chemicals being used in fracking and neurological disorders which some people in some parts of the US where fracking is happening are reporting.

Now I’m an evidence based kind of woman.  Two scientist parents and a healthy streak of “why would that group want me to think that” gave me that.  But I can think of no reason all of these people would be telling these stories of fracking unless they were true.  And I can think of no reason on Papatuanuku why anyone in Aotearoa would support more fracking here unless they cared only about making money

So I’m supporting Gareth Hughes in his call for a moratorium on fracking until we know it’s safe.  We know it causes “small” earthquakes, hardly of no concern for any of us in our shaky isles.  We can celebrate the fact that Christchurch recently declared itself a no fracking zone. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our world asked people wanting to profit from our land to prove their processes were safe?  Or even more wonderful, that instead of continuing to pillage our land, we put resources into exploring and establishing alternative and sustainable fuel sources.  It could happen here.  Time to cycle to work.


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