Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Hydraulic Fracturing Must be Banned in Pennsylvania

To the editor,

In June, I detailed the
• pollution for rivers, streams, ground water, well water, and air produced by hydraulic fracturing,
• fact that fracking involves draining millions of gallons from Pennsylvania water ways—meaning less clean water to drink and greater concentration of carcinogens in what remains,
• 13-known carcinogens utilized in producing the “earthquakes” necessary to release the gas from the shale,
• fact that an unknown number of additional chemicals used are protected as proprietary rights—and hence unknown to the affected public,
• fact that fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act,
fact the Williams Production Appalachia is lying about their drilling plans for Columbia County,
• WPA’s alarming record of environmental and safety violations—6 on the list of the top 26 violators in PA,
• fact that WPA controls 55,000 acres in PA, 10,000 in Columbia County and more in state parks and game lands in Bradford and Lycoming Counties,
• traffic, vehicular hazard, noise, road and bridge destruction that will accompany WPA’s mammoth presence in townships like Benton,
• fact that not one fracking dollar of either the product or the profits is destined for Pennsylvania.

Fracking in Pennsylvania is a disaster-in-the-making. Yet only fifteen residents of Benton Township appeared to protest WPA’s proposal for a water withdrawal station near Rt. 487. The zoning board gave approval with nary an outcry. Some local’s biggest worry is they might be milking less than their neighbors from the fracking cash cow. They whine about being taken by “landmen” for low-ball deals, and feign surprise at corporate greed—all the while corporations like WPA cheerily park machinery on their property, letting it sit there like conversation pieces. Will Benton Township supervisors feign the same fake-shock over destroyed roads and bridges? Decimated resources? Plummeting property values? Contaminated wells?

Fracking must be BANNED. There’s no way to adequately control its pollutant waste: “When a well is fracked, a small earthquake is produced …The gas trapped inside is released and makes its way to the surface along with about half of the “fracking fluid,” plus dirt and rock that are occasionally radioactive...Volatile organic compounds…and other dangerous chemicals are burned off directly into the air during this on-site compression process…the returned fracking fluid… is either trucked off or stored in large, open-air, tarp-lined pits on site, where it is allowed to evaporate. The other portion of the fluid remains deep underground—no one really knows what happens to it” (www.vanityfair.com). In other words, the massive pollution of both air and water—some of it radioactive, some of it unaccounted for—is the single GUARANTEED product of fracking.

Why didn’t we demand a ban long before the Dimmock disaster? Ignorance, jobs, and the bizarre idea promoted by local corporatists like Tom Anderson who insist environmental regulation is some leftist plot. Perhaps they think WPA can be successfully sued. Absurd. Corporations left to regulate themselves and to control that information are virtually un-sue-able. Indeed “wastewater treatment plants…often don’t know the exact makeup of the water they’re treating, nor do they have the capacity to remove all contaminants.” Try to prove your ignite-able tap water’s WPA’s fault. “When you live next to a gas drilling operation… you don't have any control of your own property,” says a Taylor County man who can no longer graze his horses on his OWN land. Jobs ARE important. So important we’re apparently willing to sell out our kids, state lands, properties, and our health for them. Is the pay going to be enough to make up for the massive losses? Not a chance.

Wendy Lynne Lee

597 words