The picture above is one of a farm in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, the site of one of the largest fracking booms in the entire country. While the fracking rush has been an economic boon for some residents, it also has had a heavy toll on those who have not received the benefits, in the terms of environmental damage and pollution to their air and water. The picture is a microcosmistic representation of the fracking industry looming large over the idyllic large fields and small farms of Susquehanna county, and many other similar counties in Pennsylvania.
The picture comes from a news article talking about various issues in both environmental and regulatory standards for the fracking industry in Pennsylvania. It was taken by Dave Harp, a staff photographer for the Bay Journal, who is responsible for the article previously mentioned. It’s clear the picture was taken by Dave Harp to be representative of the duality between the industrial machine of fracking and the tranquil, peaceful environment that otherwise would have existed.
An easy example contained within the picture is the pond in the foreground of the photograph. This represents the danger to the water sources presented by methane and hydraulic fluid leaking into the water table; obviously this water source is far more exposed and vulnerable being at the surface however. Potentially this water could be used for animals or irrigation for agricultural purposes. The source of all life is water; damage to water sources in Susquehanna county potentially represent an existential threat to everyone living there.
A viewer can clearly see the area around the fracking derrick is clearly barren and dead, compared to the lush grasslands and forest around and behind the farm. Some of the fracking setups are large, and even the smaller, though not as large, are quite numerous, taking up a large amount of space, given that Susquenhanna county has over five hundred drilling sites. The scale of this operation is clear damage to the landscape and soil all over the county.
Though obviously invisible, one can read into the threat to the air as well. The climbing of the derrick into the skies, and nearly hitting the top frame of the picture represents this. The release of methane gas and burnoff clearly is a detriment to the air quality locally, but also globally in terms of carbon emissions, not to mention the emissions of the many vehicles, both regular and heavy, needed to maintain fracking logistically and transport stored gas.
This photograph of a farm and fracking rig are representative of the threat that fracking plays to the environment and personal health of the people of Susquehanna county. The derrick looms over the farm like an evil lords tower in an old fable; only this evil is far more real. This is only a small scale, but this threat is ever present in communities across midwestern America. We can only hope the government and regulators in affected states act appropriately to ensure fracking is done as safely as possible, and look to the future ultimately for better renewable energy resources.