If there is anything to make it clear who fracking companies have in their pockets, it has to be the latest bill introduced in North Carolina.
Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, refers to a process used to extract petroleum products from deep underground, mostly natural gas. Natural gas, as a fuel, emits less carbon dioxide than other petroleum derivatives, such as gasoline or diesel fuel, and is useful in pretty much every industry that these fuels already occupy.
Fewer greenhouse gas emissions seems like a great idea, but fracking is generating a lot of emissions on its own, including greenhouse gas emissions from leaks and flaring, as well as water and soil contamination. Families near some fracking wells have been suffering adverse health effects that have forced them to abandon their homes. Interestingly, while residents suffer, no one is studying the chemicals that these wells pump into the ground. In fact, politicians and lawyers have gone so far as to deny any possible health or environmental risks, refusing to force companies to reveal their “company secrets.”
North Carolina Republicans have presented a bill that would severely penalize anyone who tries to obtain information regarding the chemicals being used by fracking operations. The very people who need to know, in order to do their very jobs, such as emergency response personnel and health care workers, can lose their jobs just for asking. Revealing the chemicals to the public, under the proposed law, would be treated as a felony, penalties including fines and prison sentences.
It seems to be that the public has a right to know what witch’s brew is going into the ground, but fracking operations don’t see it that way. Interestingly, the very people who are supposed to protect the public, the politicians, refuse to do their jobs. How many politicians do fracking operations have in their pockets?
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk