The second great insight that Gasland provides on the hazards of hydraulic fracturing is something that he does so effectively in the movie that he doesn’t even mention it specifically: the dispersed nature of the industrialization.The cumulative effect of the dispersed setting is actually identified by the scientist at SMU as a major barrier to regulating the air emissions because each well does not reach the threshold to trigger Clean Air Act reporting. But the cumulative effect of all the wells in a region more than surpass that threshold.
Going back to the problem listed in part 1 of the limitations of regulation, the dispersed setting of industrial sites in the midst of farmland must be a challenge to regulators to review well pad siting and construction, hold pond construction, materials storage. When Josh is first speaking with folks in Dimock, you can see first hand the rural setting, the space between neighbors that dilutes a critical mass of both industrial material and of people.The footage of the well explosion in Wyoming is remarkable, where regulators just could not respond until it had gone, and then simply had to sit back and let the thing run its course. Again, in the extras section of the DVD, Josh interviews a gentleman in Arkansas who shows where a truck of flow back water pulls up to a creek to dump its contents.
There is a reason that cities and counties zone industrial areas: it attracts economic development, yes, but it also defines a specific area that infrastructure can handle heavy industrial practices. Heavy traffic and industrial materials can be handled appropriately. Hydraulic Fracturing brings those heavy industrial practices to the farm in rural areas along country roads, separated by several hundred acres from the next industrial site – the closest fracking well. The lesson here is one of acknowledgement, and preparing for that as best we can in the process of planning and development. For example, permits may be issued in a way to account for road repair, which is actually mentioned in the DENR report. Ironically, those of you know me know that I am fan of dispersed management or decentralized systems, but the dispersed nature of these little industrial sites should be managed in some type of cumulative, central manner.