New Tech gives us the chance to track pollution to the source
The story on IO9 is, specifically, about fracking but the implications are much broader than that:
BaseTrace, a startup that is making a simple product that could change the future of oil extraction. BaseTrace proposes to seed fracking waters with tiny amounts of DNA that would be like a signature attached to the water that's going into the Earth. For each company doing the fracking, there would be a unique signature. If a local pond becomes toxic, chemists can sample the waters and look for traces of the DNA. If the DNA pops up, they can be certain that fracking is to blame for the contamination — and they can even identify who is responsible.
These "traceable fluids" could help us understand how much damage fracking actually does to the environment. And they could be used to force specific companies to pay for ecosystem cleanup.
So, even beyond fracking - companies that manufacture chemicals, process fuel, etc., ... basically any company whose products are released into the environment could have a unique signature on those products. If rivers / lakes / groundwater / soil etc., become polluted, we would know which company, or companies, are responsible (and to what degree).
In short, the first step in making corporations pay to clean up their mess.