Review of Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America written by Eliza Griswold rating *****
Back in 2015, a job transfer forced me to move to Dallas, Texas. I didn’t know much about the Dallas area, but I was keenly aware of the fracking industry. Flying into Dallas from the west gives you a birds-eye view of the pockmarked landscape from the thousands of gas wells. I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere near those wells. I ended up some forty-five minutes to the northeast of downtown Dallas. Not long after my move, the Dallas area started experiencing a wave of earthquakes. In a normal year, The Dallas metroplex might experience about six earthquakes a year. In 2016 there were some 600 earthquakes. Politicians and fracking companies claimed to be looking into a possible connection. Studies in Oklahoma showed a direct correlation between earthquakes and fracking. But in Texas, they couldn’t be sure.
When the residents of Denton, TX passed a local ordinance banning fracking, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, quickly passed a law that nullified the local ban. The same thing happened in Pennsylvania and many other communities across the country. I was glad to read that the law in Pennsylvania was challenged and defeated. The residents of Denton continue to deal with cracked foundations and lower property values.
Author Eliza Grizwold tells both sides of the fracking story. No one can argue that there aren’t real benefits that come with fracking: jobs, increased tax revenue which leads to improved schools and infrastructure, a cleaner energy source than coal or oil, royalties to landowners who lease their land. But these are all short term. Sooner or later the fracking companies move on. They leave behind broken promises, a damaged ecosystem, and a blighted landscape.
Author Grizwold’s book focuses on the ill-effects from fracking on several local residents of Amity and Prosperity Pensylvania. She also touches on the broader effects. The fact is that fracking is harmful to the environment. Gas wells leak hydrocarbons, the collection ponds used to store used fracking fluid leaks into the ground and into streams and aquifers, there is a tremendous waste of water. The damage to the air and to the water affects those who live nearby, but it also affects the rest of us as well. Farmers continue to farm their land around the wells. Their livestock drinks the polluted water. That tainted food eventually makes its way to your table and mine.
The health of millions of people is negatively affected by pro-industry state governments. If you’re lucky enough to live in a forward-thinking state, where fracking is banned and the focus is on renewable energy, you should keep voting for those politicians. If you live in a state where the politicians put industry and political donors above its constituents, the best remedy is at the ballot box.