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Foreign Correspondent: Meet the Frackers 02-28-12

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Published on Feb 29, 2012

http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content...

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-28...

February 28, 2012 Season 21 Episode 4

"...There's a new resident moving into America's cities and suburbs, peeking over backyard fences and casting a shadow over shopping malls. Some folks are being right neighbourly and are welcoming the new arrival. But many more are fretting about how the stranger might dramatically impact their safe and peaceful suburban lives. It's setting neighbour against neighbour and dividing communities. Honey, meet the Frackers..."

"...If conniving TV oil baron JR Ewing stepped out onto the porch of Southfork and surveyed a sprawl of fine suburban housing intermingled with oil and gas plants you'd be sure that characteristic big wide winners' grin would break out across the Dallas bad guy's dial. Surely this is a triumphant picture of industry at harmony with residential life. An American dreamland.

But this isn't Southfork, Dallas it's Southlake, Dallas and many residents aren't so taken with the idea of drilling rigs pressing up against their backyard fences.

'There is no amount of money that will convince me that we should have this in the middle of our neighbourhoods. I'm not going to put a price tag on the health and safety and well being of my family.' DIANE HARRIS Southlake resident

Spreading beneath Southlake and a chain of communities fanning out from the big Texan centre is an oil and gas rich Eldorado called the Barnett Shale field and developers are stampeding for a piece of the action. It's all part of an accelerated quest within the United States for energy independence, to loosen the reliance on the Middle East and shoot for home grown solutions to energy demand.

But to liberate the bounty below calls for a controversial process called Fracking.

Fracking involves injected huge quantities of water and chemicals into a subterranean setting shattering the shale and releasing gas and oil.

'A lot of things that are generated during this process are known to be harmful to human beings. But it's similar in my mind to how we found out about cigarette smoking and cancer. It wasn't that we did a study and found out oh no look cigarettes cause cancer, it was 40, 50 years of ah... exposure.' DR GORDON AALUND Emergency Doctor and Southlake Resident

In this revealing journey through America's suburban heartland and onto where fracking is taking place on a panoramic scale in hitherto moribund states like North Dakota, North America Correspondent Michael Brissenden hears very conflicting views about the pros and cons of fracking.

There's the young urban gas jock making a bundle on a rig outside Fort Worth.

'Every day, probably to the end of this world, we'll keep drillin'. There will be holes in the ground and we will be there.' TAYLOR HINKLE, Rig worker

There's the North Dakota county development chief watching the boom go kaboom! and dramatically transforming his state.

'A boom beyond - I think it's safe to say - anything that anybody has really seen in this country since probably the land rushes in the early 1900's.' GENE VEEDER Watford City, McKenzie County

And there's the small Dakota landholder who says her pristine creek has been tainted by underground leaks generated by fracking such that it doesn't freeze over, even in the depths of a bitter North Dakota winter. Jacki Schilke is also blaming fracking for her failing health.

'They're here to rape this land, make as much money as they can and get the hell out of here. They could give a crap less what they are doing here. They will come on your property look you straight in the eye and lie to you. And they will leave without a second thought and they don't care'JACKI SCHILKE, North Dakota farmer

As the fracking question gathers momentum locally -- are we glimpsing an Australian future?..."

Transcript- http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content... & http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-28...

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