When I first started tuning in on fracking issue, road damage and truck traffic were the last things I thought we needed to worry about. Traffic issues didn’t grab my attention like toxic exposure through air, water contamination, land use and land contamination. Then I started getting run of the road frequently. In one year, I had to buy six new tires. I had several near wrecks because trucks would drive off muddy drill sites and leave giant chunks of caliche mud in the road, or because of ruts and potholes. Experience was my teacher.
Traffic accidents and fatalities skyrocket in shale boom areas. Karnes County, Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale experienced an increase of over 1,000% in commercial motor vehicle accidents from 2008 to 2011.
Eagle Ford Shale by county increases in traffic accidents from 2008 to 2011 (Source):
- Atascosa: +56%
- DeWitt: +67%
- Dimmit: +175%
- Frio: +200%
- Gonzalez: +204%
- Karnes: +1,050%
- La Salle: +418%
- Maverick: +100%
- McMullen: +1,050%
Two Parker County men who were critically injured by water hauler trucks that failed to obey traffic laws have received “significant financial settlements” totaling 11.7 million.
“My clients suffered terrible injuries because these companies didn’t comply with federal regulations and failed to make safety a priority,” Laird said. “The growing energy industry has brought incredible revenue to Texas, but our roads are becoming more and more dangerous every day as a result.” –
Fracking has brought “incredible revenue” to only a few. The majority of Texans are not seeing a benefit because most of that revenue is going into the pockets of the fracking executives and large landowners.
… Communities where drilling has occurred are now dealing with various externalities. But the companies who have generated these costs are not paying for those costs. They have off loaded that significant burden onto the tax payers and local businesses. This is true of the oil and gas industry as a whole. In fact, economists estimate that if all oil and gas externalities were included gasoline would cost in excess of $12/gallon. ~Deborah Rogers, Will the Eagle Ford Shale Bankrupt Local Communities. Also see Part II
So let’s recap on the “benefits” fracking boom towns are experiencing:
- Higher taxes to pay for road damage.
- Huge spikes in traffic accidents and deaths.
- Strip joints and prostitutes are the new sources of entertainment.
- Property and trees damaged from oilfield waste.
- Tainted beer.
- More complaints to taxpayer funded state agencies.
- Damaged health and quality of life.
- Foul air.
- Dangerous jobs.
- Longer commutes to work due to increased traffic.
- Health care administrative staff are going to work in the oil field.
- Schools are struggling with “struggling to deal with larger, sometimes transient student populations, more students from single parent homes and more homeless students.
- Food banks are swamped with more requests for help.
- Increased diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity.
- Big spike in sexually transmitted diseases.
- “Desperate” need for more mental health professionals to treat depression.
- Longtime residents have been pushed out by rent that has risen as much as $1800 to $2000/month.
- Seniors are struggling with higher housing and services costs.
- “Our stable population is being ousted,”
- Women are hounded by oilfield workers.
- Long-term cost of paying for damaged health.
- More cities fall into non-attainment.
- Land use, including loss of green space, agricultural land and wildlife habitat loss and fragmentation.
- Loss of property value and loss of any potential gain in property value.
- Loss of sleep/sanity in not knowing what disaster awaits next.- fire, explosion. lightning strike, spills/leaks/emission spikes, flaring.
- Loss of tranquility with constant truck traffic.
- Loss of time being an unpaid regulator/police/reporter/researcher.
- Loss of water.
- Loss in faith of all government agencies and leaders, all the way up to the president, especially those agencies specifically created to protect us, like the now near useless EPA.
What have a missed?
PS: While I think the traffic victims deserve every penny awarded to them for their pain, suffering and loss of future income, I can’t help noticing the disparity of the settlements awarded to those whose lives were destroyed because their water was ruined and/or because they suffered ongoing exposure to carcinogens and other dangerous contaminants. Some of those people will never be healthy again.
And, why are the records in traffic accident settlements left open while records in nuisance and toxic torte settlements sealed?
Edit: I put emphasis on county to help commenter, Ben, and added suggestions from other commenters.