Here's what you won't hear in the sales pitch when natural gas drilling companies move into town: Fracking may bring temporary jobs, but with those come lots of problems, including a migratory work force that could increase the number of social disorder arrests and—get this—even lead to more cases of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs.
A new report from the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch outlines the social costs of fracking, including everything from more traffic accidents to more disorderly conduct arrests and STDs. Using the heavily fracked Pennsylvania as a case study, Food & Water Watch found that fracking brings woes other than toxic water contamination and air pollution—it changes the quality of life in rural communities, too. Previously quiet country roads are suddenly clogged with heavy vehicle traffic jams, along with light and sound pollution that can disrupt residents' health and the health of animals in the vicinity.
Community safety changes, too, as substance abuse and alcohol-related crimes often increase in heavily fracked zones.
"We need clean energy jobs that are good for communities, workers, and the environment, but fracking isn't going to get us there," Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement. "The social costs of fracking aren't just costing the communities where fracking is occurring. They're affecting the laborers, as well. Oil and gas industry workers and America deserve better."
Here are some takeaway stats from the report, which compared unfracked Pennsylvania counties to fracked counties:
• Once fracking began in 2005, heavy truck crashes increased 7.2 percent in the rural Pennsylvania counties with the heaviest density of fracking, compared to a 12.4 percent decline in unfracked rural counties. Sometimes, trucks accidents spilled toxic fracking wastewater into surface waters;
• Disorderly conduct arrests increased 17.1 percent in the most heavily fracked rural counties, one-third more than the 12.7 percent increase in unfracked counties;
• The number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases increased 32.4 percent in heavily fracked counties, 62 percent more than the increase in unfracked rural counties.
There are plenty of other reasons to keep fracking and its related practices, such as wastewater disposal, out of your neighborhood. Fracking is terribly energy intensive, and is as polluting as burning coal for power. Some communities in Pennsylvania have lost their clean water supply, as well, and suffered plummeting property values as a result.
Published on: September 30, 2013