The Fracking Song: "My Water's On Fire Tonight"

Video Link, more about the project here. And read the investigative report that inspired this video "explainer" at ProPublica (* warning, major bummer alert).

A snip from the lyrics:

Fracking is a form of natural gas drilling
An alternative to oil cause the oil kept spilling
Bringing jobs to small towns so everybody's willing People turn on their lights and the drillers make a killing

Water goes into the pipe, the pipe into the ground
The pressure creates fissures 7,000 feet down
The cracks release the gas that powers your town
That well is fracked..... Yeah totally fracked

But there's more in the water than just H2O
With names like benzene and formaldehyde
You better keep 'em far away from the water supply

"My Water's On Fire Tonight" is a product of Studio 20 NYU in collaboration with The song is based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling. Music by David Holmes and Andrew Bean, vocals by David Holmes and Niel Bekker, animation by Adam Sakellarides and Lisa Rucker.

(via Jay Rosen)


  1. I’ve always wondered how private business would fare, mines, mills, and oil & gas in particular, if North America didn’t have so many small towns looking for reasons for continued existence. The surprising amount of political leverage yielded by the promise of keeping these towns alive probably has more to do with voting districts (or whatever the exact term is) being based on the former rural distribution of population rather than the current one. Any thoughts?

    1. Finally, a good premise for a zombie movie. Tainted tap water gives fire-burping townsfolk unnatural life!

      1. But the new fire-burping Zombie horde has given the town a new lease on life as a tourist trap! How will the town come to terms with their new way of life?

  2. The increasing divide between rich and poor is in the best interests of polluting industries. Poverty creates a desperation that makes communities and people willing to accept industrial processes that cause terrible destruction and harm to health.

    Poverty also creates a pool of people desperate enough to join the military and lose life or limb fighting pre-emptive wars in oil-rich lands. I heard on NPR that Congress isn’t expected to pass legislation that would close the tax break loopholes for the oil and gas industry. The Democrats in oil producing states will vote with the Republicans.

    America is a two-party state but the parties are the haves and the have nots, and Congress is full of red and blue haves.

    It has got to change!

  3. YAY after effects!!! the software not the explosions and headaches. i love seeing keyframes used as visual elements.

  4. “Fracking is a form of natural gas drilling”

    So, nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica, then?

  5. The hard thing about this is, the supposed ‘research’ coming out of the universities in places like Texas and Oklahoma – which is used to train oil and gas personnel – presents a falsely optimistic story, so people in the industry *think* the hazards aren’t there and it’s just liberals complaining. They’re not looking at the same data, which is why they’re so convinced that they’re right and it’s just that these crazy outsiders don’t know anything about oil and gas.

    1. I’m inclined to believe that what the industry is actually thinking is “$$$$$$$”.

  6. It seems as though the problem is with the wellheads. The elevated levels of methane are within 3000 feet of the wellheads. The horizontal drilling sends bore holes down and they terminate thousands of feet away from the wellhead. If there were methane seeping up from fissures caused by the drilling you would probably see elevated levels centered around the bore holes not the well heads. This is actually good news since it is much easier to monitor and control the construction and maintenance of the well heads.

  7. Isn’t this conflating a number of issues in a way that is out of step with Boing Boing’s scientific accuracy thing?

    There are a few things that I would pick up on.

    Gas isn’t an alternative to oil. Natural gas-fuelled vehicles are not really feasible in a broad sense at the moment and it would probably take about 20 years for this to change.

    The recent Duke study found gas in the water in some tests in Pennsylvania – as quoted by ProPublica – but no traces of fracking chemicals. Obviously some studies have found these traces. It’s at least possible that there are other sources of gas contaminating wellwater. The thing there, then, is not so much about fracking, it’s about production.

    It seems to also be picking up on a Cornell study saying shale gas was worse than burning coal. Which is maybe not wholly convincing.

    I’m not saying that fracking should be unregulated. What I’m saying is that it’s more complex than this song suggests and that BB should probably do better.

    Whatever you might think about the way in which fracking is currently handled, it is a principal reason why North America has cheap natural gas, thus lower utility prices – which should presumably be welcome at a time when gasoline prices are increasing.

    Sorry if this comes over as overly preachy, it just seems like a simplistic analysis of a complicated issue – and I’ve been wearing a suit for two days and talking about it. The issue. Not the video, which was nicely done.

  8. Surface waste disposal facilities cause FAR more impact on the water we drink than any fracking operations! The methane from these trash mountains and the totally un-monitored chemicals leaching through into our water, whether into streams or underground resources, is truly critical. More importantly, it is something that is TRUE! The hype surrounding fracking is largely UNTRUE. Let’s get sensible about this and find ways to both monitor and regulate ALL pollutants, based on FACTS, not HYPE!

  9. Posted by a recent townie of a just-now fracked “small” town of America, where a university population lives and tries to breathe…Morgantown, West Virginia.

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