My Water’s On Fire Tonight: The Fracking Song

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, “and we fig­ured a song would be the per­fect way to do it–especially since it’s called frack­ing.”


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.