Case Study - In My Backyard

Community water, noise and air pollution with drilling into the Texas Barnett shale

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a drilling process where pressurized fluids, usually mixed with suspended solid particulates or "proppants", are used to develop fractures in subsurface geologic formations for natural gas extraction. Often, the fracking zone is in deep subsurface areas below the depth of drinking water aquifers used as a groundwater resource. Drilled boreholes are "cased" in steel pipe and cement, and inadequate drilling and casing approaches can lead to contamination of the water in the aquifer with drilling chemicals or the petroleum hydrocarbons being targeted for extraction.

Dense shale formations such as the Marcellus shale formation in the Eastern United States and the Barnett shale of Texas are locations of rapidly increasing natural gas drilling using fracking. This increase in drilling has led to increased contamination of groundwater supplies as well as surface water pollution from spills and containment overflow of drilling mud, drilling brine water, and used fracking fluids that are pumped out during the final stages of the process.

About the Film: In My Backyard (4:30 min) accounts the story of some residents of Wise County in northern Texas and their concerns with the pollution impacting their homes and land resulting from natural gas drilling operations. Told in the first person by those experiencing the problems, the work shows the human impact of the surge in gas drilling and fracking operations experienced by an increasing number of rural residents near these well sites. The work addresses the issue in a clear and well photographed style that effectively communicates concern, hazard, and risk to those living in the shadow of the increasing resource demand for natural gas. -GM

About the Filmmaker: Joe Duty captures the essence of rural Texas. A resident of Wise County since 1992, Joe has worked as a staff photographer for the Wise County Messenger since 2001. He has earned many awards including photographer of the year numerous times, PopPhoto contest winner and third place in the he 2003 Nikon International. He's also been published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Dallas Morning News and Shutterbug Magazine. In his words, "I have a love-hate relationship with this project... I've been on both ends, ...and I could truly feel these guys pain. I tried to let that motivate me in a unbiased way..."