On 8.20.11, a group of excellent young people orchestrated an event in Bloomsburg Town Park to highlight the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, FRACKING, for the environment, health, and community. Throughout a day of music, education, and conversation they set an example of what peaceful protest looks like and of what people brought together by the public good DO.
I’ve laid out the dangers of fracking dangers here (see my previous letters in the July and August editions of Raging Chicken Press). Suffice to reiterate, however, that no other corporatist gambit promises to make more money for fewer people—at the expense of the communities, resources, aesthetic character, and economic solvency of a community—than fracking. However much some may want to make this a partisan political issue, it’s not—at least not one that has a pro-industry side any rational person would adopt considering the industry’s track record. For example:
- Parachutte Colorado: “1.6 million gallons of fracking fluid leaked and were transported by groundwater… it seeped out the side of a cliff, forming a frozen waterfall 200 feet high. It melted into a tributary of the Colorado River.”
- Wyoming: “Benzene, a common chemical used in fracking, was discovered throughout a 28-mile long aquifer” [a known carcinogenic].
- Dish, Texas: “Mayor Calvin Tillman describes how carcinogenic air pollution from drilling has ruined the quality of life for residents, who report problems with nausea, headaches, breathing difficulties, chronic eye and throat irritation and brain disorders. Trees are dying and horses have fallen ill. The town hired an environmental firm to collect air samples and found high levels of 15 chemicals used in fracking fluid, including benzene, toluene and xylene. In June, 2010, tests by the Texas Railroad Commission showed high levels of arsenic, bari0um, chromium, lead and selenium in residential water wells.”
- Dimock, Pennsylvania: “Sept., 2009, 8,000 gallons of fracking fluid leaked from faulty supply pipes into wetlands, poisoning streams and killing fish. Drinking …would ignite when a match was held to it as it came out the tap. People reported dizziness, headaches and skin sores from showering. In October 2009, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection shut down water wells in the area due to major contamination of the aquifer.”
This is merely a sample. Perhaps we think the industry-hyped economic benefits are worth the risk. Facts: the 48,000 “new hires” promised by pro-industry groups like the Marcellus Shale Coalition and Energy in Depth cooked the data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to inflate growth potential. The number of hires between 1st quarter 2008 and 3rd quarter 2010 was 10,600, not all of which were gas workers. 70% of gas workers were out-of-state hires.
According to Janette Barth, Ph.D. economist, “studies show that… [c]ommunities across the nation…where gas drilling takes place often become “throw away” communities. Non-metropolitan regions that have focused on… fossil fuel extraction as an economic development strategy end up with the highest levels of long-term poverty and unemployment.” Specifically, fracking “is likely to cause declines in our important existing industries such as agriculture, tourism, wine making, hunting, fishing and river recreation…[and will include] the costs to maintain and repair over-used infrastructure, costs of environmental degradation, costs to human health, increased demands on social services and first responders, and the costs associated with declines in other industries. Homeowners can expect trouble refinancing and insuring properties on or near gas drilling, as both banks and insurance carriers avoid the risks associated with gas drilling. The predictable results will be reduced property values and reduced tax revenues.”
If this isn’t the future you envision for your home, property, or community, tell Governor Corbett that fracking MUST BE BANNED in Pennsylvania.
Editor’s Note: You can check out Wendy Lee’s series on fracking on Raging Chicken Press right here. Wendy’s series has been a regular feature since our first issue.
Wendy Lynne Lee | Professor of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University