Why On Earth Is Fracking Allowed?

Environmental biologist walks through the reasons this extreme form of extraction is allowed in 36 states (but not New York...yet!).

A six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Jon writes about all things ocean.

What is it that France, Germany, Ireland, Bulgaria, and Vermont know about hydrofracking that the rest of the world does not?

Having weighed the risks to the environment and human health, those nations—and lone U.S. state—have banned fracking completely. In the accompanying video clip from my new film, Dear Governor Cuomo, environmental biologist Sandra Steingraber recounts some of the reasons fracking has been allowed—though not yet in our home state of New York—which includes powerful spending by an energy industry focused on continuing our dependence on fossil fuels and short-term gains for shareholders.

MORE: 5 Reasons Fracking Should Scare the Absolute Hell Out of You

Perhaps the biggest failing in every U.S. state that allows fracking is the lack of foresight to protect children from the fallout of the extreme extraction process. Children are most subject to the smog created by both the methane that ends up in the air—thanks to the process—and the pollution from thousands of diesel truck trips necessary to accommodate pickups and deliveries. 

Not to mention the chemical poisoning of local waterways when the fracking process either leaks or spills. As Sandra points out in this clip, New York state law would allow fracking wells within 150 feet of a school. In Colorado, the Women of Erie Rising are fighting exactly the same fight, attempting to keep a series of wells from continuing to whir and whiz just across the street from elementary schools.

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