Putting people over profits: The fight against fracking

July 24th, 2013

Published on Axis of Logic, by Walter Brasch, July 20, 2013. Pennsylvanians want to put a moratorium on fracking.

  • And it’s not just a few thousand, but a majority of the state’s residents.
  • Pennsylvania lies in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, possibly the most productive shale for gas in the country. 

A joint University of Michigan/Muhlenberg College study reveals that only 49 percent of Pennsylvanians support shale gas extraction and 58 percent of all Pennsylvanians want the state to order “time out” until the health and environmental effects of fracking can be fully analyzed. That same study revealed that 60 percent of Pennsylvanians believe fracking poses a major risk to ground water resources, only 28 percent disagree; 12 percent have no opinion.

Petitions with more than 100,000 signatures requesting a moratorium were delivered to Gov. Tom Corbett in April. As is typical for the man who willingly accepted more than $1.8 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, it didn’t matter.

High-volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing, better known as fracking, requires per well three to nine million gallons of fresh water, about 10,000 tons of silica sand, and about 100,000 gallons of a lubricant mixture that the drilling companies won’t reveal the contents. However, a U.S. House of Representatives study suggests that of about 750 chemicals that could be used in that solution—every well and every company uses a different mixture—about 650 are toxic or known carcinogens. That mixture is forced into the earth, past the aquifers that provide drinking water, and then is brought up and placed into plastic-liner storage bins, where it is eventually loaded into trucks that travel throughout Pennsylvania, occasionally leaking onto the roads, and usually into Ohio, where millions of gallons of the fluids are forced back into the earth. Scientific evidence now links those deep injection wells to earthquakes. Scientists have also shown health and environmental effects from fracking, and that methane, an explosive greenhouse gas extracted from the earth, has added to the problems of climate change.

In June, the Democratic State Central Committee approved a resolution to establish a moratorium.

So, if almost three-fifths of all residents want fracking to stop, who’s opposing the moratorium? … //

… Former Gov. Ed Rendell told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg the resolution was “ill-advised,” and then used the same arguments spewed forth by Tom Corbett and the Republican leaders by claiming fracking improved the economy and “helped create wealth in the poorest areas of Pennsylvania,” avoiding any references to the detrimental effects that Feridun so eloquently brought forth.

What Rendell didn’t say, although it isn’t any secret, is that he is a special counsel to one of the nation’s largest law firms that represents Big Energy. Among his chores was to intervene on behalf of Range Resources, one of the nation’s largest drilling companies, to get the Environmental Protection Agency to drop a water contamination suit.

Also opposing the will of the delegates are at least two of the three Democratic candidates for governor. One is an unabashed supporter of fracking—he was the DEP head under Rendell, who opened the gates to fracking Pennsylvania; the other is a member of Congress, but who represents a district in the affluent Southeast Pennsylvania that has already received the state’s official blessings to be part of a six-year moratorium on shale drilling.

The day the petitions were delivered to Tom Corbett in April, State Sen. Jim Ferlo (Pittsburgh) proposed legislation to call for a moratorium. Co-sponsors are Sens. Lisa Boscola (Lehigh/Northampton), Andrew Dinniman (West Chester), Shirley Kitchen (Philadelphia), Daylin Leach (Montgomery/Delaware counties), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), and Christine Tartaglione (Philadelphia)

Let’s hope they can convince the Republican-controlled legislature to—as Karen Feridun says—“put people over profits.”
(full text).

(Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and author. His latest book is “Fracking Pennsylvania,” a look at the health, environmental, and agricultural effects of high-volume horizontal fracturing. The book is available at Greeley and Stone.com, your local bookstore, or amazon.com).

Link: Pennsylvania Fracking on Google News-search.

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