JAN. 04, 2012
You know it’s a hot controversy when the celebrities get involved, right?
First Mark Ruffalo started organizing opposition to horizontal drilling for natural gas in New York, featured in this NY Times story that also quotes Debra Winger. Recently Mario Batali joined a bunch of chefs who are urging the New York governor to oppose fracking in that state. (And kudos to our public media pals at New York Public Media for the active verb in this swell headline: “NYC Chefs: Don’t Frack With Our Ingredients.”
So when my editor, Donna Vestal, and I started talking about doing a story on fracking – the new, eight-letter F-word — we wanted to know something much more important than just who supports it and who doesn’t.
We wanted to know how horizontal hydraulic fracturing will affect farmers. Will it be a boon to land-rich, cash-poor farmland owners seeking a profit? Or could it be a contaminant to the precious groundwater used for production in parched parts of the Midwest?
You’ve probably heard about fracking from the many stories that have been done in the last couple years. Horizontal fracking is an energy extraction process that cracks open layers of underground rock, releasing trapped oil and natural gas. It’s an old method that’s been gaining steam in the last few years, growing popular on the East Coast and gaining a foothold here in the Midwest, as Harvest’s Eric Durbanreported in Kansas.
The debate has raged between environmentalists and the oil and gas industry about its safety and cleanliness, a debate that heated up whenthe EPA last month connected fracking with water pollution in Wyoming.
Over the holidays, Ohio was shaken – literally – by several earthquakes that at least one seismologist blamed on fracking. The AP reported that a state representative there wants to call a moratorium on fracking, while the governor pushed back, saying that would punish an industry because of a byproduct of the process.
We’d love to hear from you about any experience or insight you have on fracking. Click here to help us report this story for the Harvest Network.
This article is brought to you in collaboration between The Gazette and Harvest Public Media.
Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration of several Midwestern public media stations, including Iowa Public Radio.
Harvest's multimedia work — appearing on radio, TV, and in print and online outlets — explores issues related to food and food production.
For more information go to: HarvestPublicMedia.org.