Wenonah HauterSometimes reality is stranger than science fiction. That's the case with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- a dangerous technology that's much like setting off a giant pipe bomb four or five miles underground. Millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand are injected deep into shale rock formations at high pressures to break open the rock and release the gas.
The promoters say its safe. Or that's what the oil and gas industry would have you think, anyway. But behind the scenes, the industry is fighting tooth and nail to keep fracking unregulated, and its claims of safety, economic prosperity and energy security unquestioned. Their high-dollar campaign to put a happy face on this risky practice is designed to challenge the growing movement to ban fracking that's heating up across the country: people are saying no to this risky technology that, if pursued, will negatively impact our health, water, and economy.
Here are some of the ways the oil and gas industry is attempting to "buy" public sentiment and a positive policy environment for its newest darling -- shale gas fracking:
1. Legal Bribery in Washington
The industry spent over $145 million lobbying Washington in 2010, making it one of the top five industries spending big money to buy influence -- and it seems to be working: In January 2011, bipartisan congressional members of the Natural Gas Caucus opposed proposed U.S. Department of Interior rules to disclose fracking chemicals used on public lands; this caucus' 83 members received a combined $1,742,572 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2010, according to a Propublica investigation.
2. Slick PR and Ad Campaigns
3. Buying Silence
4. Using Legal Muscle to Stop Public Inquiry
5. Influence Pedaling Beyond Washington
6. Buying Academic Shills