I have mostly stopped wondering what lengths the natural gas industry is willing to go to insure they meet their objectives: fracking as much gas as they can possibly get out of the ground, getting it into pipeline, shunting it to export depot, and then off to the global markets as fast as they can--and before we in the "sacrifice zones" really comprehend the full extent to which we have become an extraction colony gas factory for folks who already have made more money from fossil fuel "development" than "god"--yet not so much money that they don't want more.
And of course by that time, it will be too late for our air, soil, and water.
You know, that stuff we depend on for life.
What's clear is that the gas industry wasted no time at all finding ways around Act 13--the bill that made the entire state into an EZ-Frack bonanza for the drillers all the while making it impossible for us to find out what made us sick if we're fortunate enough to live down stream, downwind--or anywhere within the relevant region.
And that's anywhere when what we're talking about is climate change.
So, long before Act 13 was found unconstitutional, the natural gas industry was buying off legislators on both sides of the isle, crafting bills to advantage themselves, gutting laws that make some part of the fracking infrastructure a teeny bit more difficult or expensive, and making sure to cover their tracks, by, in the case of SB 411, appropriating a vocabulary reserved to people who actually do good things to themselves as green-washing cover for the damage they're about do.
SB 411 is just one more version of what I have been calling cadaver cosmetics (http://openstates.org/pa/bills/2013-2014/SB411/):
1. The actual cover up of the deforestation, water contamination, soil erosion, etc. caused by fracking via the cosmetic use of green paint, high fencing, grass seed, and straw (short of commandeering public roads and just scaring us away).
2. The figurative cover-up affected through the appropriation and frack-friendly transformation of language like "environmental," "green," "regulation," "middle ground," "realism"--and in this case "good samaritan" and "beneficial use."
Either way, they're trying to make a cadaver look like it's alive all the while they--like the vampires they are--suck out the blood, the bone marrow, and the life from Pennsylvania's rural communities, state forest lands--even Pennsylvania state college and university properties (http://thewrenchphilosleft.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-industrialization-of-passhe-where.html).
SB 411 is just one more strategy for the cadaver cosmeticians. As reported at the Delaware River Keeper:
SB 411’s scope of liability protection includes: “any person who uses and any person who allows the use of or provides mine drainage, mine pool water or treated mine water, as part of a water pollution abatement project, including a mine operator or water pollution abatement project operator that provides for payment or otherwise treated mine drainage for hydraulic fracturing or other development of a gas well, industrial or other water supply or other beneficial use of the water.”
The bill defines “other beneficial use” as, “Any use of water for a purpose that produces any economic, environmental, ecological, or other benefits, including irrigation, silvaculture, cooling water, flow maintenance and augmentation, consumptive use makeup, and any other use of water deemed to be a beneficial use under common law.” (http://delawareway.blogspot.com/2013/03/oppostion-topa-senate-bill-411.html).
In other words "beneficial use" may now be defined as the use of one highly polluting mining process to the ends of another highly polluting mining process--acid mine drainage for frack water.
Imagine what that will look like when it's done!
To give you an idea, here's a acid mine drainage:
"Acid mine drainage is one of mining's most serious threats to water. A mine draining acid can devastate rivers, streams, and aquatic life for hundreds, and under the "right" conditions, thousands of years.
How does it form?
At metal mines, the target ore (like gold, silver, copper, etc) is often rich in sulfide minerals.
When the mining process exposes the sulfides to water and air, together they form sulfuric acid.
This acid can and often does dissolve other harmful metals and metalloids (like arsenic) in the surrounding rock.
Acid mine drainage can be released anywhere on the mine where sulfides are exposed to air and water -- including waste rock piles, tailings, open pits, underground tunnels, and leach pads.
Acid drainage is often marked by "yellow boy," an orange-yellow substance... that occurs when the pH of water drops low enough so that previously dissolved iron precipitates out.
Harm to fish & other aquatic life
Acid mine drainage can have severe impacts on fish, animals and plants. Many impacted streams have a pH of 4 or lower -- similar to battery acid.
For example, acid and metals runoff from the Questa molybdenum mine in New Mexico has harmed biological life in eight miles of the Red River.
Acid mine drainage is especially harmful because it can occur indefinitely -- long after mining has ended. Hardrock mines across the western United States may require water treatment in perpetuity.
For example, government officials have determined that acid drainage at the Golden Sunlight mine will continue for thousands of years.
Water treatment can be a significant economic burden if a company files for bankruptcy or refuses to cover water treatment costs.
For example, acid runoff from the Summitville Mine in Colorado killed all biological life in a 17-mile stretch of the Alamosa River. The site was designated a federal Superfund site, and the EPA is spending $30,000 a day to capture and treat acid runoff.
- See more at: http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/acid_mine_drainage#.UtH4ESiUD8s
So, what's in frack water? Just to review:
500,000 wells in the United States; average of 8 million gallons of water per frack, per well; up to 18 times a well can be fracked.
That's 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals like Benzene, Diesel, biocides, surfactants, neuro-toxins, endocrine disrupters, and carcinogens.
And that's just the frack--not the emissions from the compressors, the idling trucks, the pipeline explosions (Sissonville, West Virginia, anyone? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wNA86eyr1Q). None of this is pretty. But the real issue, as the Delaware Riverkeeper points out, is that
The groups’ letter points out that SB411 eliminates liability under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act for possible spill and release in the transport and use of mine drainage water, the Solid Waste Management Act, and liability in the discharge of industrial waste or pollutants under The Clean Stream Law, when using AMD as specified in the Bill. (http://delawareway.blogspot.com/2013/03/oppostion-topa-senate-bill-411.html)
That's beneficial alright--for the natural gas industry! And that, of course, is the whole purpose--a double benefit for the natural gas industry:
1. Immunity from liability under the Hazardous Sites Clean-Up Act and the Clean Streams Act.
2. The appearance of the Good Samaritan--isn't it nice that the gas companies are going to use that nasty water for their nasty fracking?
Let's review what a Good Samaritan really does:
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the gospels of the New Testament. According to the Gospel of Luke (10:29–37) a traveller (who may or may not be Jewish) is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Good_Samaritan).
Now let's lay out the gasser's version of the parable:
According to the Gospel of, say, WPX the streams of Pennsylvania were indeed beaten, robbed, and left half dead by the coal mining industry. First a gas company representative--like Helen Humphies--comes along and then a government official--say, Patrick Henderson--and both avoid looking at the streams (after all, they have champaign luncheon later that day with their friends in Big Coal). Finally, the Good Samaritan comes by, say, Anadarko's Mary Wolf, who generally hates the streams and other water ways of the Commonwealth, but has a vision with the sound of "cha-ching" ringing through it. The Anadarko Good Samaritan says to the acid mine drainage damaged stream, "We will syphon your waters off and away to a drill site, where we will contaminate you far further, and we promise we'll not leave you for half dead. We'll finish the job."
How about that for a caring response to our already eroded stream beds and polluted water? Why leave half-dead what you can just leave for dead?
Here's the simple take-away: don't be suckered by this latest gambit to bamboozle you into thinking that fracking and all of its nasty infrastructure is safe.
And the fact that the gassers are going to such lengths to convince you that it is should be the first clue to the big lie.
SB 411 is just another version of cadaver cosmetics: the effort to cover up in manipulative rhetoric what they won't be able to cover up in our streams: death.
So, please, sign the petition: