Fracking at the Erie Elementary School photo shoot
Yesterday I trained my aerial camera on a newest fracking operation in Erie, Colorado. My goal was to create a photo that illustrates fracking near schools or neighborhoods. Little did I know just how easy that was going to be.
First, I pulled into a farmer’s driveway rock throwing distance from the fracking site. The owner of the farm was sitting in his backhoe, removing part of a tree damaged in yesterday’s storms. I approached him to see if he would let me take some photos from his field of the fracking site located right in front of two different elementary schools. He was happy to oblige.
“What do you think of all this?” I asked, after getting his permission for the shoot.
“It’s noisy,” he replied, and then added stoically, “and we’re on well water, so it’s a little disconcerting.”
He turned back to his work, doing his best to ignore the invader in his backyard.
Proponents of fracking have claimed that the chemicals injected thousands of feet below the surface are below what they call “impermeable” layers of rock. But a recent study using computer modeling shows that the fracking itself can make the layers more permeable, and facilitate the passage of the toxic fracking chemicals into the aquifer - and our drinking water - much faster than previously thought.
Then there is the issue of gas leaks around fracking sites, which has made the air quality in parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah worse than Los Angeles in terms of the gasses released by fracking operations.
Of course, the pro dirty energy contingent will point out that computer modeling doesn’t constitute proof, but when you’re gambling with the health of America’s future, do you want to wait until there is absolute proof before being careful? Isn’t that a little like saying, “Until you can prove exactly how many cigarettes it takes to cause cancer, children should be able to smoke!”
Shooting these photos was a bit surreal. It felt like I was photographing an occupation force in my country. There was the America I love: the open spaces, the the homes, the small farms, and the schools and Boulder's Flatirons in the background. And sitting there in the middle of it all is the invading army, a huge machine that sucks resources from the ground, exports the profits, and leaves behind poisons before moving on to the next conquest.
The machine didn’t ask permission from the parents or the school kids who breathe the air, or the farmer who drinks the water. The machine just invaded. Sure, it is legal, but the laws were written by legislators working for the gas companies in the first place!
Photos of the fracking operation a few hundred feet from the Erie Elementary School and the Red Hawk Elementary School taken with help from Erie Rising and are free for all publication courtesy of Lighthouse Solar.