What Does the Tracy Morgan Car Wreck Have To Do With Fracking? A Lot, Actually.


Some will accuse me of politicizing a tragedy, I am perfectly OK with that. When the facts are relevant you should not shy from offending the sensibilities of others, especially when those sensibilities are paper-thin to begin with. It seems a bit of a stretch, I know but hear me out, because what happened to the popular, former SNL star has a connection to very legitimate concerns about fracking.

The driver of the rig that crashed into the vehicle is being criminally charged for his part in the deaths resulting from the accident. He was driving while sleepy. Tucker Carlson, in his infinite (lack of) wisdom questioned whether that was appropriate. To be fair, I question it a bit as well, at least the part where the blame is being heaped strictly on the driver. It has come to light that his employer is Wal*Mart. Yes, that Wal*Mart. The Wal*Mart that talks employees into being complicit in the theft of their own wages for “the good of the company” all while getting tax payers to foot the bill for their payroll by paying such low wages that their workforce needs to go on food stamps. It does not take much convincing to get me to believe this man was bully browbeaten into driving longer than legally allowed. Which is where fracking comes in.

The energy industry is often exempt from rules regarding driver safety and limits on hours driven. Even when they are not outright immune, the laws are relaxed, in part by federal law, to allow their drivers on the road longer. That means sleepier drivers, which means less safe roads for us all. Thousands of deliveries of fresh water, by truck, are required for every well. That is thousands of fatigued drivers. A fatigued driver can easily do a lot of damage crashing into a much smaller, non-commercial vessel.

It gets worse. So far we have only looked at the damage done when a delivery truck is involved. Unfortunately just as many trucks are required to get rid of the fracking waste, materials that include several of the worst carcinogens we have, as well as radioactive materials brought up from deep underground as part of the fracking process. Just storing this waste is a nightmare, transporting, with a fleet of weary drivers whose protections have been eroded by forty years of union busting all but guarantees that we will see this stuff dousing some poor community in the future.

First responders have a rough job to begin with. I would not want to have been one of those poor souls that had to cut Morgan and his entourage out from the wreckage. Imagine compounding that with the fact that you have to do so through a toxic, radioactive mess? This is what the intersection of environmental recklessness and the erosion of the labor movement has brought us. If we continue to allow fracking we are likely to see this scenario sooner than rather than later. If we expand fracking, you can bet it will happen a lot.


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