On a weekend trip near Monticello, N.Y., during the summer of 2010, my family and I visited some friends of ours, a married couple we’ve known for years. Over lunch, I mentioned that we had passed by several anti-fracking signs on our way to their home. Gasland had recently aired on HBO and I was curious what our friends thought about fracking (aka high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing), so I asked them. There was a pause; our friends looked at each other uneasily. Long story short, in 2009, they had leased some land they own in Pennsylvania to a gas drilling company.
To their credit, our friends, both of whom are environmentally conscious, considered the potential impacts to the community and environment before they signed. Of course at that time, the gas industry’s greenwashing campaign had successfully convinced many people that this domestically produced fuel would help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since natural gas burns more cleanly than coal. (A claim that has increasingly been called into question.)