Jessica Moroz, Staff Writer
On Friday March 2, people from all over Otsego County came together at the Oneonta Theatre in support of the anti-fracking movement. Big Fracas Productions organized the benefit, at which several musicians united and donated their time and talent for a great cause. Despite the rainy weather, the turnout was phenomenal. Donations were accepted in place of a cover charge, and representatives from regional environmental groups crowded around tables filled with informative flyers and products. One popular motto seen all across the city of Oneonta and other small towns was a dead bird with a logo above it saying: “FRACKING = DEATH.” These posters and products were a great way to notify others about the hazards of fracking and other important environmental issues like climate change and mountaintop removal.
Fracking — otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing or horizontal drilling — is a process performed by gas companies to obtain natural gas. They drill about 8,000 feet below the earth to blast water, chemicals and sand under enormous pressure. This intense pressure breaks apart the sedentary rock much like a mini earthquake, and releases the gas.
What sounds like a safe and simple process is perceived by many to be quite the opposite. Before drilling takes place, the site must be cleared of all trees and nearby land, causing a disruption in ecosystems and a threat to wildlife. This is one aspect of fracking that is often overlooked. To frack one well up to eight million gallons of water may be used, and water left underground may put drinking water at risk of contamination.
Fracking not only threatens water quality, but air quality as well. Biologist, poet and advocate, Sandra Steingraber, claims: “Fracking brings urban-style pollution to the rural countryside.” Due to an increase in traffic congestion and a decrease in trees by the drilling site, this effects the release of carbon dioxide emissions, which is linked to climate change.
By 9 p.m. there were 100 plus individuals who attended and donated. The devoted and enthusiastic individuals behind Big Fracas Productions included a team of seven: Jennie Williams, Sandra Peevers, Colleen Blacklock, Charlie Reiman, Kate O’Donnell, Michael Suchorsky and James Herman. The five local bands that performed were Diane Ducey and Measured Mile, Mountebank Brothers, Lil Slice and The Good Things, Hagalicious With Sage and Hurricane Lauren & The Ukie Yokels. John Paul Sliva, a SUNY Oneonta graduate from 2003, dedicated his time to interview others and make a video production of this great event. Sliva is not only a contributing factor to Big Fracas Productions, but he also coordinates and teaches sustainable farming at Bart College in Hudson Valley. It was great to see students from both Oneonta and Hartwick donate their time and money to make this night a success. Great music, great people, and of course food and drinks, have brought together a variety of individuals in the fight for the same cause.