Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beef Stew, Baked Beans, and Cole Slaw

Usually people get mellow on a full stomach. This must be the strategy of the gas industry as they host numerous so-called information forums in areas about to be drilled. The spokespeople for the industry have their spiels down pat so as to make the idea of drilling something akin to winning the lottery. The only trouble is the average homeowner isn't the one winning big.

People in gas-drilling areas say their well water has become discolored or foul-smelling; their pets and farm animals have died from drinking it; and their children have suffered from diarrhea and vomiting.

Bathing in well water can cause rashes and inflammation, and ponds bubble with methane that has escaped during drilling, they say.

These problems are never brought up by the presenters of such public forums. But occasionally a distraught land owner has the courage to speak up. Unfortunately, a lone voice or two does not cut through the lies being told, or perhaps, at best, we could describe the information as "truthiness." At a recent gathering in Hickory, PA, a representative of Range Resources Corporation, told the people
new drilling techniques are much less damaging to the landscape than traditional ones, and that energy companies are subject to strict environmental regulations.
The gas industry was exempted in 2005 from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and other major environmental protection laws. And the technique of horizontal drilling by means of hydrofracking is a very toxic process using over 100 deadly chemicals which often end up where they should not be, causing serious injury, illness, and soil and air pollution, most of which cannot be significantly reversed. Whether people have signed a lease or not, getting satisfaction in a court of law is an uphill battle, sometimes taking more than a decade to resolve.

At the Hickory meeting a spokeman said there had been zero reports of contamination of groundwater. Upon hearing this, Ron Gulla, a resident of Hickory, who has suffered greatly because of gas drilling, shouted from the audience,
"I have never seen such a bunch of liars in my life! You have put me through hell."
The gas industry will not disclose the toxic cocktail it uses in hydrofracking because it is proprietary. However, there is a group in Colorado known as The Endocrine Disruption Exchange which has collected some very disturbing data. About a third of the chemicals used may cause cancer; half could damage the brain and nervous system, and almost 90 percent have the potential to harm skin, eyes and sensory organs.

Wayne Smith, 52, a farmer from Clearville, PA, was one of those "gas lottery" winners, but now he's not so sure it has been worth it after all.
Smith said he made about $1 million in royalties over three years from gas taken from under his 105 acres, but he now wishes he never signed the lease and wonders whether tainted water is responsible for the recent deaths of four of his beef cattle, and his own elevated blood-iron level.
So for Ron, Wayne, and many others who have suffered and, yes, even grieved, for what they have lost to the gas drilling where they live, no amount of beef stew, baked beans, and cole slaw is going to bring back what they once had. The great food and fellowship that is shared at these events only last an hour or two, but the effects of this unregulated gas industry will effect the people who live in the communities and cities across America forever.

As the old saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

To read the whole article by Jon Hurdle of Reuters UK, click here.

Picture of drill pad by swampfox.


TXsharon said...

You aren't going to believe the onslaught of propaganda that will now descend upon your area. Big Oil is just like Big Tobacco that said smoking could make you sexy, independent and powerful and denied the proof that it kills you. Big Oil can make you rich and powerful and what's a little benzene in your water?

Peacegirl said...

Thank you, my dear Texas compatriot! You have made the first reader comment on this new blog! So the onslaught is only just getting started? I hope we're up for it here in PA and NY.