Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dependence On Foreign Food?

Carolyn Knapp and Carol French, who spoke at OU’s Morton Hall (Oneonta University), both signed leases with energy companies to have their land in Bradford County, Pa., drilled for gas using the horizontal hydraulic fracturing method to extract the resource from underground shale beds. Both suggested that signing was a bad decision for them, and warned locals of things they need to think about before leasing. French said she has gotten out of her lease; Knapp has not. The women are co-founders of the Pennsylvania Landowner Group for Awareness and Solutions in Bradford County.

Knapp said that when she signed a lease in 2006, she bought into the claims that drilling would create an economic boom and foster U.S. energy independence. “I really believed that was going to be good for the country,” she recalled. Since then, however, Knapp said, she’s experienced multiple negative impacts, including water contamination and damage to her herd of dairy cattle. After the drilling started, she alleged, in March 2011 her tap water turned ivory-white and “jello-like.” Her adult daughter who had been drinking the water in the home, she said, ended up in the hospital with conditions including an enlarged spleen and liver, which she believes were caused by chemicals contaminating the water. The women also recounted “traffic, traffic, and more traffic” stemming from oil-and-gas operations in their area, which they said has badly hurt some local small businesses; huge decreases in property values; and a plethora of billboards, advertising everything from lawyers to drill bits to leasing offers. “It’s like, ‘Got milk?’” she joked. “Got land?” As a farmer, Knapp warned farmers in the audience that they should be very concerned about potential impacts to their crops and animals. Knapp noted that one of the touted benefits of fracking is that it will eliminate America’s dependence on imported oil. But, she asked – earning the  biggest applause of the afternoon – “Are you willing to be dependent on foreign food? Think about it.”

Are you willing to be dependent on foreign oil food? Think about it.

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