No Fracking Way


8 September 2010

I’m pretty upset about what’s going on “in my backyard,” and I’m hoping you will be, too.

In recent years, it’s been discovered that regions rich in Marcellus shale have the potential to be the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” This includes parts of Sullivan County, NY and Wayne County and Susquehanna County, PA (as well as CO, UT, OK, AR).  I live in Wayne County.

A Halliburton-developed drilling technology called hydrolic fracturing, or “fracking,” extracts the gas by injecting a complex cocktail of chemicals deep into the earth.  A debate has arisen between citizens and drilling companies regarding the safety of the fracking process.  Contamination of drinking water and other health hazards have been documented across the country where fracking is well underway.  Reports include: brown/murky water, people being able to light their tap water on fire and explosions of water wells (due to methane leakage), pets and farm animals getting sick and losing hair, chronic headaches and other otherwise inexplicable illnesses.

Under the Bush administration, energy companies were allowed to drill without regulation; fracking was made exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.  The 2009 Frac Act — which requires drilling companies to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process — seeks to repeal the exemption. The good guys in Congress are currently trying to pass the Frac Act.

In the meantime, while the battle rages and legislators work to maintain a moratorium on drilling pending a thorough EPA study, the energy and drilling companies have found a loophole in what they call “exploratory wells.”  Drilling for these wells employs pretty much the same process as actual wells, so the hazards are the same, but they are exempt from the moratorium or any other regulations/approvals; one of these loophole exploratory wells is being drilled right now 1/4 mile down the road from my house.

Josh Fox, a neighbor of mine who was offered $100,000 to allow drilling on his land, says it much better than I could, in his excellent documentary GASLAND.  Please go see it.  It will be playing Saturday, Sept 11 (outdoor screening) at FDR Drive and 23rd Street, 7pm; and at IFC Center from Sept 15-24.  It will also be playing frequently on HBO over the next two years.  It’s a terrific film (and very upsetting); I saw it outdoors in Callicoon, NY, where it was introduced by local residents/anti-fracking activists Mark Ruffalo and Debra Winger.

Here’s the link to the GASLAND Trailer

Here’s a link where you can send emails to your local legislators in support of the Frac Act.


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