The hydraulic fracturing industry is repeatedly under fire from those who would love to prove that natural gas extraction is not only harmful to the environment, but a constant danger to the employees who work on the job. From environmental groups to newspapers, it seems a small army has aligned to demonize an entire industry. More often than not, these attacks are so intent on proving their point that they only provide half the story.
Recently, The Denver Post ran an extensive four-part story that highlighted the day-in-day-out dangers inherent in oil and gas drilling. Entitled “Drilling Through Danger” the piece spent the better part of a week dropping scary facts designed to paint the hydraulic fracturing industry as a danger akin to crab fishing in Alaska. Anyone reading the litany of human details in the Denver Post’s series would inevitably draw the conclusion that the oil and gas industry as a whole is a huge burden to mankind.
As it happens, that’s not the case. In an editorial to the Post written in the wake of the “Drilling” series, industry experts pointed out that, “oil and natural gas development actually has fewer fatal injuries than construction, transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, government, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality.” That means more people die working in hotels than working on a fracking project, an extremely important fact that was omitted from the “Drilling” series.
There’s also the oft overlooked fact that fracking is slowly supplanting the coal industry, an energy gathering process that’s not only more harmful to the environment, but more dangerous for the employees who toil in its service. By comparison, hydraulic fracturing is extremely safe. It’s far from a foolproof profession, but the same could be said of practically any industry on the planet. That’s to say nothing of the fact that every direct oil and gas job supports “approximately 2.8 jobs elsewhere in the US economy.”
Any death in the oil and gas industry is a tragedy felt deeply by coworkers and families alike. No loss of life is taken lightly, not even by the companies that ask their employees to take risks with their lives. The oil and gas industry has seen several advances in recent years that aim to make it safer for industry employees. There may still be steps to take, but the oil and gas industry seems committed to taking those steps.