Activists are already furious about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing; now some are adding spiritual concerns to their list of grievances. Energy companies are extracting gas from deep below US cemeteries from Texas to Pennsylvania. The fracking occurs far below ground, with companies citing depths of 7,000 to 8,000 feet. But even as firms say it causes no damage to graves, "What if something goes wrong?" wonders an environmental expert. "I can see the signs now: 'Rest in peace means no lease.'"
But companies insist that the fracking activity happens too deep to hurt the grave sites, and note that the wells and drilling equipment are located off the property, generally about a third of a mile away. And some families have no problem with it: Rather than complaining about disturbances to plots, relatives called Chesapeake Energy to seek royalties from the gas extraction, the firm tells the New York Times. Cemeteries are glad to cash in, with money helping refurbish their grounds. "We have not had one problem," says a pastor.