By now, most reasonably intelligent folks know that fracking pollution is capable of turning household faucets into flamethrowers. But a new report issued by the environmental advocacy group Food & Water Watch argues that fracking, which uses toxic chemicals to harvest oil and natural gas, can lead to a burning discharge in humans as well. We're talking STD's here.
Don't laugh, we're fracking serious.
The report, titled the Social Costs of Fracking: A Pennsylvania Case Study, comes on the heels of Senate Bill 4, signed last week by California Governor Brown. The new law requires oil companies using fracking and other emerging technologies (such as acid stimulation) to obtain permits and subject themselves to increased government oversight. But even with new regulations, anti-fracking groups say that water pollution and chemical cocktails are only part of the equation, and that negative social issues need to be considered.
On Tuesday, Food & Water Watch issued a press release containing statistics culled from various agencies in Pennsylvania where fracking has been going on since 2005.
"Traffic accidents, disorderly conduct arrests and sexually transmitted infections in rural communities worsened in Pennsylvania counties with fracked natural gas wells," read the release.
This included a 7.2 percent increase in traffic accidents in heavily-fracked counties, and a 17.1 percent increase in disorderly conduct arrests. But taking top prize, were the STD's gonorrhea and chlamydia, with 32.4 percent increases.
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"These fracking-associated social costs further demonstrate the shortsighted nature of U.S. investment in expanded fuel extraction," the release read.
Though the report provides ample fodder for raunchy jokes about hookers, gushers and petroleum-based lubrication, an increase in numbers makes serious sense. Fracking operations require a massive work force: truck drivers, rig operators, clerical, hospitality, etc. It goes without saying that where large groups of working men, flush with cash are gathered, shenanigans will follow.
One has to wonder what a fracking surge would look like in the more urban and "civilized" Orange County. Recent reports have surfaced about Signal Hill Petroleum pulling permits in north Orange County cities looking for new sources of oil, and records maintained by the state show fracking is occurring off the coast of Long Beach. Though it's unlikely an oil boom would see OC returning to the outlaw days of Theo Lacy, a cowboy can dream. It certainly would be interesting to see which group the law kept its eye on, the outlaw hookers and pimps, or big oil and its political allies. Which do you think?