Opinion: Frackie O’s
For those of you who’ve not heard of fracking, it’s a process where people destroy the environment to help the economy. There’s a layer of rock deep below our feet called the Utica shale that holds tiny pockets of gas. Frackers drill into that rock and then blast jets of toxic water down the hole which shatter the shale and release trapped gas. This method of extraction is called “hydraulic fracturing” since it uses water to fracture rock, but the popular portmanteau is “hydrofracking,” or simply “fracking.”
The Bureau of Land Management leased about 3,000 acres of Ohio’s Wayne National Forest to frackers. This land sits atop the aquifer that provides 95 percent of Athens’ water. Since each fracking well uses millions of gallons of water mixed with about 600 harmful chemicals, and since hundreds of fracking pads could be built in the forest, there’s plenty cause for alarm.
A recent expose in The New York Times showed that gas companies have consistently and deliberately lied to the public during the past few decades and actively buried vital information about the dangers of fracking, such as the radioactive waste it spews into water supplies. Like Groucho Marx said, “Honesty is the best policy- when there’s money in it.”
Cunningham Energy, the vampires who need to suck fresh gas from shale beds to stay alive, have been eyeing Athens’ jugular vein and seducing locals to stretch their necks and lease their land. Cunningham’s land manager, Joe Blackhurst, said “Anyone who leases their land is a patriot” and claimed fracking would “bring a huge economic boom to Southeastern Ohio” that “touches people economically and lets them live the American dream.”
In his State of the Union address Obama said fracking would help the U.S. achieve energy independence. He failed to mention that it would also help us develop permanent brain damage while we bathe newborn babies in water laced with radioactive discharge. He also failed to mention that fracking directly caused eleven earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio during 2011. Ever the pragmatist, Obama prefers fracking because it’s safer than coal, which is like preferring to be shot by a bullet instead of a cannon ball. As Edward Abbey once wrote, “Among politicians and businessmen, pragmatism is the current term for ‘To hell with our children.’”
Obama also said a shift to fracking would create jobs – as if a shift to solar and wind power wouldn’t. To be sure, when fracking comes to Athens it will create jobs and cancer patients. You can hire somebody to dig their own grave and call yourself a job creator. Cunningham Energy, with all the vision of a near-sighted Cyclops, will sacrifice ecological balance for the balance sheet’s bottom line. Athens residents will live downstream from businesspeople who’re bound by law to put profits before children’s health, especially since frackers are exempt from the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Not only will fracking poison Athens’ children, but more importantly it will contaminate Jackie O’s beer. Any Athenian who likes to raise the wrist knows that Jackie O’s brews the best beer on earth, bar none. But if frackers poison the well and their rock-busting elixir leaches into the city’s water supply, then all the genius beer wizardry of Brad Clark, the Brewmaster at Jackie O’s, could be tainted with frack juice.
Devoted fans will weep hop-bitter tears onto a menu that displays Razz Wheat with its crisp bursts of berry and arsenic; Firefly with its citrus aroma and isopropanol finish; Mystic Mama with subtle notes of grapefruit and hydrochloric acid; Ohio Pale Ale with its floral bouquet and hints of carcinogenic benzene; Chomo with its malty mix of honey and tetramethylammonium chloride.
Due to its deserved success, Jackie O’s bought a factory on Stimson Avenue so it can brew bigger batches of their mind-blowing beers. This bump in production will enable them to sell kegs all over Ohio and thus spread liquid joy to thirsty Buckeyes who can’t imagine what they’re missing. But if the Cunningham crowd is allowed to punch holes in local turf and douse the land with their deadly potion, fellow Buckeyes will be deprived of a drinking experience that’s lovelier than drinking from the Fountain of Youth out of the Holy Grail.
Even if fracking was the only energy option, and no alternative existed, it still wouldn’t be worth it. An influx of jobs isn’t a boon if those jobs are in the ecocide industry. If Faust sipped Jackie O’s beer, no devil’s bargain could tempt him to sacrifice such ambrosia and sign a loophole-laden pact that promised worldly wealth but cost him his soul, or in this case, ace beer. If our fate is in the hands of poser environmentalists at the Sierra Club and sly gas mongers, then before long it’ll be difficult to distinguish between a good beer buzz and wooziness from huffing gas. But if nothing else, at least we can treasure the novelty of lighting our beers on fire.