Last week I watched a riveting  documentary on HBO: Gasland.

If you have HBO, you should watch it On Demand.  Its the story of how natural gas drilling is wreaking havoc on the environment and destroying communities throughout the country.  In a process call “fracking” (which is just a perfect term for any BSG fans), the companies pump huge amounts of nasty, toxic chemicals underground to help get the natural gas out.  Not surprisingly, those nasty, toxic chemicals get into people’s water.  If you haven’t clicked the video above, you really need to just to see water coming out of a faucet catch on fire.

The ongoing thought I had while watching this movie was “how could this happen in America.”  The government seems entirely unwilling to listen as companies simply go in and absolutely destroy the water supply where people live.  It really struck me as something you’d expect to see in some third world dictatorship where people have little recourse against corrupt government and industry.  Depressing.

Apparently, this has become much worse since the 2005 energy bill (e.g., Dick Cheney’s energy bill) exempted companies involved in fracking from the clean water act.  That’s right– the companies pouring tons and tons of highly toxic chemicals into the water table don’t have to abide by the clean water act.  There’s a bill currently in Congress to end this exemption, but, alas, it appears to be stuck in committee.  I really don’t see how anybody can seriously argue that corporations don’t have absurdly undue influence in American life and politics.

Anyway, you should watch it.  And get mad.  And maybe even write your member of Congress.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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