While preparing for my interview with controversial Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox last week (see here), I spoke with an old friend who'd not-long-ago left the notoriously underpaid world of cheffing to become a rather lucratively compensated oil driller. Or fracker, if you wish.
Without compromising his employer's privacy, he shared some rough stats with me that spoke to the footprint of one recent, larger-than-average hydrologic fracturing drill site. Numbers like: 4 million pounds of sand, 5 million gallons of water, 10,000 gallons of chemicals, 600 semi-truck trips to transport resources.
Speaking about water in the West and fuel consumption alone, we concurred that fracking takes an immense toll on the environment, which says nothing of the broader issue of documented groundwater contamination and other alleged eco-impacts further explored in Fox's impending Gasland Part II.
On those hot topics, my friend — who's seen colleagues fired and fined for failing to report a spill; who tends to believe flaming faucets can be blamed on natural methane deposits; and who generally thinks Fox is "full of shit" — says that based on his own research and experience, he'd be willing to buy a house near a fracked oil or gas well.
Post-interview, I'd say Fox was as persuasive, his facts checking out.
As with tobacco in the mid-20th century, it may take a while for one side to "win" in the arena of public opinion. But this week, at least we get to examine one major player, and his work, in our own backyard.