Fracking Hay!

Herd About It?

by Ana Grarian

I’m starting to understand why the government wants us all to move into the city. It’s so they can take the rest of the county, the beautiful part, and turn it into hazardous waste sites for industry. (not that cities aren’t superfund eligible sites all by themselves)

I’ve been studying the progress(?) of natural gas drilling companies in CNY. In my area there is a geological formation called Marcellus Shale. The shale is believed to contain pockets of Natural Gas that the companies hope to “liberate” by horizontal drilling.

A number of years ago I noticed a lot of odd activity along the roadside on my way to and from work. Miles of wires appeared laying along the roadside. I didn’t see much in the way of people, just the occasional van and maybe one guy. I asked around and my neighbors didn’t know what it was either.

It was the gas drilling company doing a geological survey.

Eventually this nice, clean, neat, casually dressed man showed up at our door to see if we would like to lease our subsurface rights. We would get a small fee for the term of the contract, and IF they found gas within the “block” of properties in the area, we would share the royalties with our neighbors. He stressed that they needed a block of properties to make it work. We wouldn’t want to jeopardize our neighbors opportunities by not signing up.

A well drilling site would be set up somewhere within that block, but it would be small, and we could continue to farm the ground around it. (I’m beginning to learn that may be more bullsh*t than we have spread on that ground in the past 30 years.) Of course the gas drilling company would maintain the site – of course it would.

Visions of bucolic pastures with cows grazing around a pristine well head danced in our heads. The possibilty not of riches, but of perhaps, relief from the financial pressure of an ever increasing mortgage rate. The thought of being able to hang onto the farm a little longer. After all natural gas is clean – right? They were just going to be pounding some pipe into the ground to release and transport a gas – right? How bad could it be?

Well – the story is a little more complicated than that. The process, owned by Halliburton, called “fracing” (pronounced “Fracking”), involves injecting a million gallons or more of water, solvents, toxic chemical salts and lye compounds, as high pressure steam, into shale deposits to “free up” the petroleum they contain. Of course lots of other ‘stuff’ is ‘freed up’ as well. But, don’t worry, they would never let anything BAD happen, would they?

That great patriot, sportsman and lover of America, Dick Cheney, former chairman and CEO of Halliburton, as vice president pressured the administrator of EPA, Christine Todd Whitman (didn’t she swear there were no worries about air pollution after 911?), to exempt hydraulic fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act regulation.The EPA had described how toxic these materials are at the point of injection, and still their summary said they didnt need to be reported or regulated. Congress took the report from EPA saying that fracking did not present a risk, along with other information, and

exempted hydraulic fracking from regulation under

the Safe Drinking Water Act.

That leaves the American public in this position: we cannot know what the industry injects in our land. It is exempt from being reported.

Oh – there’s more. This water / chemical slurry comes back out of the pipes (though not all of it) contaminated with other chemicals “liberated” from the shale. What do you do with these millions of gallons of contaminated water? You collect it in lagoons of course! Sound familiar? Now we can add lagoons of fracking sludge to our manure lagoons!

Won’t our beautiful rural area be improved? Are you starting to see why they hope we all move away? Out of sight out of mind you know.

If there are no witnesses – it didn’t happen.