April 24, 2019 | 63° F

Panelists express environmental effects of fracking

Photo by Lianne Ng |

A group of panelists discuss the impact fracking has on people’s drinking water Monday at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus. Technologies Without Borders: Technologies Across Borders also held a screening of the documentary “Gasland” at the event.  

Panelists informed students Monday about the effects of obtaining natural gas through pumping chemicals into the ground, known as fracking and the legislation that aims to improve it.

Technologies Without Borders: Technologies Across Borders held a film screening of “Gasland,” a documentary featuring filmmaker Josh Fox, at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus along with a panel discussion to spread the message of how hydraulic fracking impacts the environment.

The film looks at how hydraulic fracking has directly affected the lives of individuals as Fox visited various homes across the country, said Charlie Kratovil, a coordinator for Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies concerning health.

“Fracking is an unconventional form of natural gas drilling that uses millions of gallons of water and mixes them with toxic chemicals which is then injected into the earth’s surface,” Kratovil said.

The documentary showed an example of several homes that had drinking water contaminated enough to set on fire.

“As the documentary shows, fracking causes earthquakes and poisons our drinking water with dangerous chemicals such as methane,” Kratovil said.

Tracy Carluccio, the deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a nonprofit membership organization that provides environmental advocacy, said fracking could also ruin surface water, which can affect drinking water.

“If we continue to allow fracking, then we are dead. If it’s not us that is dead, then it will be our grandchildren,” Carluccio said. “This is a critical moment in time for us.”

Wes Gillingham, the program director and founder of Catskill Mountainkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization, said in order for people to have the capacity to make change, they have to be determined.

“Think of the toy industry — if the toy industry created a toy that was killing children, we would immediately take it off the market and would not think about how we couldn’t live without a toy. That is exactly what we are talking about here,” Gillingham said.

In New Jersey, a fracking ban bill was introduced, but Gov. Chris Christie did not sign it, Carluccio said.

Christie vetoed a permanent fracking bill that would have ensured the protection of water but did agree to ban fracking for one year while waiting for the results of federal studies to determine whether to make the ban permanent, according to nj.com.

“That is what we have to do, though — we are fighting an uphill battle. We have to force our government to do it by signing petitions and writing letters,” Carluccio said.

She said 30 years ago, people used fossil fuels more often than today, believing that there needs to be a shift in the way energy is procured.

Kratovil said University students should care about the effects of fracking because it is something that can affect them directly.

“Rutgers students should care about fracking because it is going on in Pennsylvania, and if it is allowed to happen near the Delaware River, it could poison our water here in New Brunswick,” he said.

Flisadam Pointer, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she wanted to learn more about fracking and was not fully aware of the effects it can have.

“I think we can all change by spreading awareness. If I go home tonight and tweet about this event and fracking, then maybe it’ll lead to others learning about it,” Pointer said.

By Elizabeth Kearns

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