In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney personally engineered a loophole in the U.S. energy bill exempting companies that use an oil- and gas-drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, tons of diesel fuel and assorted chemicals--some of them toxic, like benzyne--are injected at high pressure into the earth at the sole discretion of the companies doing the injecting. One of the chief beneficiaries of Cheney's string-pulling is the company that invented the procedure, Halliburton, which employed Cheney as chairman and CEO just prior to his becoming vice president. (A coincidence?)
In the wake of the Halliburton Loophole, as it has come to be known, there have been a growing number of water pollution cases, from Pennsylvania to Colorado, associated with fracking. Some of those cases were documented in last year's Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary, Gasland, by Josh Fox, who said in a PBS interview, "I could take a car battery and throw it in the watershed and go to federal prison, but these guys can take the same chemicals and inject it by the thousands of gallons, and they're exempt. It makes no sense."
It's a serious issue involving two of America's vital interests--the need for energy and the need for safe drinking water--but a group of journalism students in New York University's Studio 20 master's program, in association with the public-interest journalism group ProPublica, has taken a light-hearted approach, creating a music video to raise awareness of fracking. It's called "My Water's on Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song)." The purpose of the project, according to group leader David Holmes, is to encourage people to read ProPublica's reporting on the issue. "We were concerned with building a better entryway into that investigation," Holmes told Poynter.org, "and we figured a song would be the perfect way to do it--especially since it's called fracking."