npr perpetuates a misleading distinction

January 27, 2013


Yoko Ono holds a jug of water from Ray Kemble’s kitchen tap in Montrose, Pa. Yoko Ono and son Sean Lennon are fighting fracking in N.Y. Their song against fracking and fractivists’ use of the word prompted “deep digging” by NPR into that term. //photo borrowed from

I woke up this morning to an exceedingly bizarre NPR report titled online: “Focus On Fracking Diverts Attention From Horizontal Drilling.” Huh? I invite you to read or listen here.

The more I thought about it, the more incensed I became. So, I logged on and posted this comment to NPR and the reporter:

Horizontal drilling is “just as important” as fracking? Maybe next time, you could report on how “high-volume horizontal slick water fracturing” is just as important as fracking. This was a very odd story. It is only the industry that tries to separate one component of the process to escape responsibility and plead impunity. As in: There has been no proven case of the fracking process contaminating groundwater.” The industry can say this with a wink because “fracking,” or the injection process per se, hasn’t contaminated water – at least not yet. (Although a study published in the journal Ground Water showed contaminated water could migrate to aquifers in “just a few years.”

But the wastewater disposal (legal and illegal), the failed cement casings, the spills onto farmland and into streams, and the drilling near abandoned vertical wells are contaminating water – with methane and the drilling brew.

Everyone familiar with fracking knows about horizontal drilling. Check ANY site about fracking, and you will see a diagram of the vertical and horizontal drilling process. And the chemicals. And the trucks carrying millions of gallons of freshwater. And the wastewater pits. And the earthquakes from reinjection of wastewater for disposal.

When Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon sang about fracking, they were talking about the entire process. So what if it’s a short-hand term.

And you probably shouldn’t interview Terry Engelder without also interviewing Anthony Ingraffea.


To the list of components of this industry that threaten communities, I should have added venting, too. And compressor stations. And pipelines. The list goes on.

–elisabeth hoffman


One Response to “npr perpetuates a misleading distinction”

  1. Ineke said

    Thank you Elisabeth, for following up on this – I agree that it was a bizarre report, and frightening, too, to hear NPR be the reporter of this story.

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