Read author and journalist's Ellen Cantarow's expose for TomDispatch.com, "How Rural America Got Fracked." She begins with a preamble about silicosis--a danger sand mines pose to neighbors--and then moves on to the economics and politics of sand mining in rural America in a story that features interviews with many Tunnel City residents.
Here's how it starts:
Today, there’s a new silicosis scare on the horizon and a new eco-nightmare brewing in the far corners of rural America. It has flown under the radar -- until now.
Once upon a time, mining companies tore open hills or bored through or chopped off mountain tops to get at vital resources inside. They were intent on creating quicker paths through nature’s obstacles, or (as at Gauley Bridge) diverting the flow of mighty rivers. Today, they’re doing it merely to find the raw materials -- so-called frac sand -- to use in an assault on land several states away. Multinational corporations are razing ancient hills of sandstone in the Midwest and shipping that silica off to other pastoral settings around the United States. There, America’s prehistoric patrimony is being used to devastating effect to fracture shale deposits deep within the earth -- they call it “hydraulic fracturing” -- and causing all manner of environmental havoc. Not everyone, however, is keen on this “sand rush” and coalitions of small-town farmers, environmentalists, and public health advocates are now beginning to stand firm against the big energy corporations running sand-mining operations in their communities. Click here to read all about it.