Review: The Real Cost of Fracking

Posted on August 28, 2014



The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food
By Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald
Beacon Press
August 2014
256 pages

In 2012, veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and Cornell University professor of molecular medicine Robert Oswald published their study, “Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health.” Their report documented cases studies with animal owners in Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. In 24 cases they found evidence of animals affected by drilling and fracking operations. However their report received little media attention. So they wrote a book.

In The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food, Bamberger and Oswald tell the stories of those people whose lives and the lives of the animals they loved and cared for were changed forever by drilling and fracking. They even go so far as to mask the identities of people who signed non-disclosure agreements, and who are in some cases speaking out for the first time.

The people in these stories are farmers. They raise livestock and pets, and/or grow “organic” fruits and vegetables that end up on dinner tables across the country. But how safe is food that has been grown and raised in an environment that contains toxic chemicals? In some cases the crops and cattle were contaminated directly from spills of drilling fluids and wastewater, and they went to market anyway.

Bamberger also pays a visit to a tiny community without water after a company fracked in the aquifer underneath the town and blew up all the wells, then walked away from the mess. It is inconceivable that she is describing a town in the United States. Further evidence that fracking is transforming rural America into the Third World.

This book speaks to people who live in the gas patch. Where I live in Silt, Colorado, we are surrounded by more than 10,500 oil and gas wells. My own experience and the experiences of my family, friends and neighbors echo these stories. Yet no matter how much I’ve learned about this issue, no matter how much I think I know there is always something new to learn. I came away from this book with a better understanding of the cumulative effects from exposure to drilling and fracking chemicals in water and air, not only on humans but also animals and plants. How insidiously, over months, then years, the air and water become contaminated and people and animals become sickened.

Moreover The Real Cost of Fracking has something for everyone – believers and non-believers alike. Readers who want to stick to the facts about drilling and fracking will find “A Primer on Gas Drilling.” Spoiler alert — you cannot reach the end of this book and believe fracking is safe. Unless you think it’s all lies. But Bamberger’s and Oswald’s research is well-documented and included.

With fracking happening in 32 states, plus the proliferation of interstate pipelines, silica sand mines (for fracking), bomb trains and earthquakes, and with natural gas exports on the horizon, the impacts of oil and gas development are coming to a neighborhood near you. I advise you to read The Real Cost of Fracking as soon as possible. ~ Copyright (c) 2014 by Peggy Tibbetts


Read the Salon interview with Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald –

Fracking’s untold health threat: How toxic contamination is destroying lives
America’s natural gas boom has real consequences for children and animals, researchers tell Salon

Their study:  Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health

Read more about the study –

Fracking the Farm: Scientists Worry About Chemical Exposure to Livestock and Agriculture

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