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Erick Gustafson

Yet another reason to hate fracking: It’s connected with an increase in STDs, car crashes, drug-related crimes, and sexual assault in areas where the oil and gas industry sets up shop. Or in Vice-speak, fracking workers have “an insatiable appetite for raw sex and hard drugs.” Writes Peter Rugh on Vice:

Critics of fracking have compared it to raping the Earth, but where drilling has spread, literal rape has followed. Violence against woman in fracking boomtowns in North Dakota and Montana has increased so sharply that the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced in June that it plans to spend half a million dollars investigating the correlation…[T]he DoJ speculated that “oil industry camps may be impacting domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the direct and surrounding communities in which they reside.”

Yikes. You can “correlation doesn’t equal causation” all day, but Rugh is persuasive: Fracking workers are overworked, undertrained, and seven times more likely to die on the job than the rest of us. (On a rig, 12-hour shifts are the new normal.) So workers are under an unbelievable amount of stress — and it’s yielding antisocial results. Food and Water Watch certainly agrees:

“We’ve found that fracking brought a host of social costs to communities where drilling has begun,” said FWW’s Program Director Emily Wurth. “These are the real costs of fracking that are never discussed.”

Then again, one retired drill worker told Vice that FWW is smearing fracking because Big Coal is lining its pockets. (FWW program director Emily Wurth, of course, denied this.)

But no matter how you slice it, the correlation between fracking towns and meth-fueled crime, auto accidents, rape, and gonorrhea is hella scary. The easy reaction is “Fracking suxx!” A more nuanced response might be, “Let’s get more clean energy jobs, training for those jobs, consent-based sex ed, oil spill condoms widely available contraception, drug treatment programs, and eight-hour shifts.”

That’s not very catchy, though.