A few months after the idea of doing this trip popped into my mind, my girlfriend and I stumbled across a great documentary on TV. It was called Gasland and told the story of how big energy companies extract natural gas out of the earth around the United States.
The method they use to extract this precious gas is called hydraulic fracturing – or fracking for short. This involves first transporting huge amounts of water – millions of gallons – to the site. This water is then pumped into the ground, together with toxic chemicals, at a very, very high pressure. The water being pumped into the ground at this pressure cracks the bedrock, which leads to the natural gas being released.
One frack uses between 4-8 million gallons of fluid, of which 1-2% is chemicals and the rest is water and sand. Of these millions of gallons, only between 30-50% ever reach the surface again. The rest stays in the ground – contaminating water supplies.
What does this have to do with my trip? I’ll be traveling through parts of America where the construction of these kinds of facilities is very common, and my initial thought was that I would dedicate the trip to raising awareness about what these energy companies are doing and how it’s affecting ecological systems and its inhabitants.
I chose this blog name for that reason (or rather, my brilliant girlfriend Julia – who was going to do the trip with me – chose that name), but as the summer drew closer I realized that even making it across the country in time would be hard enough without photographing gas facilities, interviewing people and raising money for an eco-friendly cause. That will unfortunately have to be another trip. The name will stay both as a remnant of a rare spur of idealism and because I don’t want to pay the $17 to change the name.
EDIT: BULLSHIT!! This is now or never. Who knows if there will be a “next trip”. I’m going to try to raise money right NOW. Please help me out by spreading the word and donating to Earthworks, a non-profit organization focusing on helping communities where energy companies have a presence. Here’s the link to my charity page: crowd rise.
Please watch Josh Fox’s great documentary about this, and get involved in any other way you can too. Spread the word about what’s happening, turn off any lights you don’t need, get out of your car and START BIKING.