It’s funny that when some industries claims that, for instance, the science behind climate change is incomplete, it’s with the aim of stopping controls from being put on the things that they are already doing, the things that might be causing pollution that might be ripping holes in the ozone layer and wreaking havoc with our seasons and ecology.
But when the fracking industry says that the science of extracting natural gas (and oil) from the shale formations below the surface is incomplete, it should realize that it is making a better argument for not allowing it to go forward. Because if you had an inkling that an act was going to screw things up, but hadn’t finished your report yet, the logical thing to do would be to refrain from that act until you knew. Yesterday we heard that taking an aspirin a day may prevent cancer. We know that it could have side effects, so you’re going to wait until the science is complete until you begin the program, right?
With coal-fired power plants with unscrubbed stacks, and automobile emissions, and the myriad ways in which we pollute having had full reign for most of a century or more, the claims of incomplete science slow down attempts to regulate; they retard reeling in those economic interests that have already been running at full throttle.
But towns, villages, counties all across the country are becoming aware that there might just be something amiss in injecting these chemicals into the ground, that fracturing the rock might have some seismic implications, that the detritus of the act might not be too healthy to put on the roads. And it is correct and prudent for these municipalities to seek legal methods of protecting themselves, even if it is only for the duration of time that it takes to complete the investigations.
It’s the old saw about measuring twice before cutting once. Once you’ve taken the step, there’s no turning back. Luckily, we’re ahead of the curve in most places regarding fracking, and the signs that it is benign are not promising. But we’ll agree with the industry that the science is yet incomplete. And act to protect ourselves in the meantime.++