There's So Much Fracking in Pennsylvania That Indie Bands and World-Famous Hitchhiking Directors Can't Find Hotels

AvtarK via DCist/CC BY 2.0

You know how much fracking there is in Pennsylvania, huh? (Audience: How much fracking is there?) There's so much fracking that an indie rock band had drive all the way to Ohio, where they picked up an esteemed hitchhiking director, cuz' all the hotels were packed with natural gas workers. Okay, so that's not really much of a joke, though it's certainly got all the requisite elements—but it's true.

John Waters, the director of campy, disturbing films like Pink Flamingos and more generally beloved ones like Hairspray, was hitchhiking across the nation, because that's what you do when you're John Waters. But he'd gotten stuck in western Pennsylvania, where people either didn't recognize him, or were put off by his 'Scum of the Earth' hat. Enter the rising indie band Here We Go Magic (they do a cool alt pop/krautrock thing), who just happened to be passing by on a tour. So they picked up John Waters.

Evidently, there was so much fracking going on in the region that they couldn't find an unoccupied hotel, and it had led them across state lines, and right into the arms of the world famous director.

Here's band member Michael Bloch in the DCist:

"There's a hydro-fracking boom in western Pennsylvania. You can't get a motel room. We had to drive til 4AM, and finally found a Days Inn in eastern Ohio. Getting back on the highway this morning, there was a man at the side of the on-ramp with a sign that read 'to the end of Rte 70.' Jen wanted to pick him up, but we drove past him. As we passed by, our sound guy said 'John Waters' Luke said, 'Yep, definitely John Waters.' We got off at the next exit and circled back. He was still there. We pulled up, opened the door and asked where he was coming from. 'Baltimore,' he said. And we said 'Get in, sir.' "
It's a cute, off-the-wall story to be sure—people tend to like it when weavers of the cultural fabric bump into each other in actually unexpected ways. But there's a fracking story here, too, and the NRDC's Josh Mogerman explains how
it points to some issues we have been focused on as the energy rush has shifted to the Midwest and Great Plains. The discussion about fracking tends to focus on the economic boom and water impacts. But what gets missed are some amazingly damaging impacts resulting from the pile on. In the Dakotas, the sudden influx of workers in to work the Bakken has resulted in localized inflation causing price surges on food staples and everything else. The sudden influx of workers on small towns have run up the cost of a gallon of milk to $6. And the “man camps” put in place there (as well as Pennsylvania) because rural counties don't have accommodations to house the temporary working population have exacted social costs that many impacted counties were not prepared for: big upticks emergency room visits, heavy wear on roads and bridges, and even anecdotal evidence pointing to increases in crime and social diseases.
In other words, most people that have to deal with the influx of gas workers don't get to have serendipitous encounters with luminary directors—they get screwed.

Tags: Activism | Fracking

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