Photo Project Portrays Families Impacted by Fracking and Fighting Back
Environmental Integrity Project and International League of Conservation Photographers Team up for “The Human Cost of Energy Production.”
Hydraulic fracturing has transformed the American landscape over the last decade, triggering booms in oil and natural gas production, making a few people wealthy – but also inflicting a terrible toll on many rural families and public health.
With debate roiling Maryland, Pennsylvania and communities across the U.S. over whether to ban or restrict fracking, the Environmental Integrity Project teamed up with the International League of Conservation Photographers to tell the stories of six families who feel the impact of hydraulic fracturing every day and who are taking steps to protect or reclaim their health and community.
The photo project, “The Human Cost of Energy Production,” is available online.
Three of the featured families are from Pennsylvania – farmers, a doctor, a nurse and their children – whose quality of life and sometimes health have been disrupted by the proliferation of drilling rigs, tanks, pipelines, trucks, and petrochemical plants that have followed the fracking boom in the state over the last decade.
Three of the families are from Maryland – winemakers, organic farmers, and a kayaking gear designer – who fear that the oil and gas industry will march southward from Pennsylvania and hurt their businesses, threaten their water supply, and ruin their quality of life if the Maryland General Assembly fails to pass legislation this winter extending a ban on fracking in the state.
A two-year moratorium on fracking in Maryland is scheduled to expire in October 2017. Governor Larry Hogan’s administration has imposed regulations that will allow hydraulic fracturing to start after that date. However, Maryland state Senator Bobby Zirkin, a Democrat from Baltimore County, and colleagues introduced a bill on February 3 that would permanently ban fracking in Maryland, following the example of New York in 2015.
The families featured in “The Human Cost of Energy Production” are fighting back against the encroachment of the powerful oil and gas industry on their lives. In some cases, Pennsylvania farmers who for generations have lived in peaceful partnership with the landscape are having their quality of life shattered by loud drilling rigs and flares, tanker trucks at all hours of the night and air pollution. In another story, a mother whose child suffered chemical exposure works to educate and bring about change.
The stories showcase brave people who refuse to give up or back down, and are organizing to protect their farms and families. Their concerns touch on issues that extend far beyond state borders to broad questions that all Americans face today: How much power should average citizens and local governments have to determine the character of their communities? Is it the people or industry that decides the quality of our lives?
The narratives were written by EIP Deputy Director Mary Greene from Environmental Integrity Project and captured in images by iLCP Fellows Karen Kasmauski and Garth Lenz.