RuPaul fracking allegations: Come on season 6, let’s get fracking!

RuPaul is well-known for his show "RuPaul's Drag Race." Famous celebrities like Lady Gaga have appeared as judges on the show, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is set to premiere on the show. 
Photo by TwitterRuPaul is well-known for his show "RuPaul's Drag Race." Famous celebrities like Lady Gaga have appeared as judges on the show, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is set to premiere on the show. 

If the notion of RuPaul, American television personality and drag queen, owning a ranch in Wyoming, of all states, is hard to grapple, the fact that his ranch also serves as a fracking site with at least 35 active wells might be even harder to wrap one’s head around. 

In an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air on March 10, host Terry Gross asked RuPaul about his Wyoming ranch and what he and his husband, Georges LeBar, do with it. RuPaul explained that running a ranch in the contemporary era essentially amounts to “land management,” and that he and LeBar manage their land by “leas(ing) the mineral rights to oil companies” and “sell(ing) water to oil companies.” 

In other words, fracking. 

Fracking is a controversial issue that has become a staple of political debates surrounding the environment and climate change. But what is it and why does it get people so riled up? Hydraulic fracking entails the use of highly pressurized fluids to force open cracks and fissures in subterranean rock — that is, to fracture the rock — to allow for the extraction of natural gas and oil reserves. 

Fracking releases methane, a greenhouse gas that erodes the ozone layer of the atmosphere and is roughly 84 times more potent than carbon. But fracking raises health concerns too. Scientists have found that fracking leads to the emission of air pollutants, such as hydrogen sulfide, that can cause respiratory tract infections and, in even more severe cases, other respiratory and cardiovascular issues and diseases. 

Fracking carries socioeconomic repercussions too, what with fracking sites being situated disproportionately in communities inhabited by poor people and people of color, leaving them at greater exposure to the health risks it poses. Fracking has also been associated with triggering earthquakes, and while these earthquakes have been said not to pose safety concerns being so small in scale, have also been known to cause damage to property.

Proponents of fracking argue that it reduces both the country’s dependence on foreign sources of natural gas which, in turn, boosts domestic production. Other benefits include lower gas prices and increased job opportunities. They have also cited lower carbon emissions as another advantage, yet this argument often neglects to address the release of the significantly more powerful methane that the process involves. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who sponsors the Green New Deal and introduced a fracking ban bill on Feb. 13, is set to appear as a guest judge on season 12 of "RuPaul’s Drag Race." While she has responded to criticism from conservatives who referred to her appearance on the show as unprofessional and a waste of time, she has yet to address critics demanding how she can reconcile her political beliefs with RuPaul’s “fracking empire.” 

Active wells on RuPaul’s ranch has been leased out to three oil companies under his husband’s company, LeBar Ranch: Anadarko E&P Onshore, Chesapeake Operating and Anschutz Exploration Corporation.

News of his controversial side-gig has led to people questioning why RuPaul, who has amassed a net worth of $60 million dollars, would seek to profit from the fracking industry, with many chalking it up to sheer greed. Others have also accused him of hypocrisy, pointing back to season 10 episode 4 of "RuPaul’s Drag Race," where contestants were asked to create three different looks for a climate change-themed ball. 

The revelation of RuPaul’s environmentally detrimental backyard activities has added on to the heap of criticisms and controversies the drag queen-model-singer-actor has been increasingly embroiled in, which include accusations of transphobia and holding a preference for white crew members and contestants on "RuPaul’s Drag Race."