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Letter to the Editor: Concerned About Fracking in Montco

A call to prohibit fracking in Montco.

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men." —Rachel Carson


Natural gas drilling by horizontal slickwater fracturing  (often called fracking) is a monumental environmental issue PA is facing that impacts everyone’s future. 

Often referred to as a “bridge to cleaner energy” our governor is supporting drilling any and everywhere possible in Pennsylvania to capitalize on the gas drilling boom.  Since the Marcellus Shale does not underlie Montgomery County, I think many of us assume this is not our problem because it’s not in our neighborhood or 500 feet from our schools, but it could be coming our way. 

As previously published in Patch, http://ambler.patch.com/articles/fracking-debate-comes-to-montgomery-bucks-counties, there is a natural gas reserve waiting to be explored in Montgomery and Bucks Counties called the South Newark Basin.  Currently there is a ban on granting drilling permits in the 2 counties, but that is subject to expire in 2018 to give the state time to evaluate the potential of the reserves and the impact on the environment.  This is precisely why if you are concerned about fracking you need to speak out now. 

If Marcellus Shale Drilling is allowed to continue, it will make it easier for the South Newark Basin to be drilled.  Not that fracking upsteam does not hurt us.  We are not as island and we cannot keep the air from blowing or water from flowing, but having the actual drill rigs, well pads, extra trucks, noise pollution, air pollution, etc. in our Township would be significantly worse.

Some serious environmental and human health issues to consider are:

  • methane gas leaks contributing to climate change
  • greater asthma cases and costs due to increasing air pollution
  • the lack of transparency of disclosure from the gas industry on actual chemicals utilized in the entire process of fracking
  • forest fragmentation caused by well pad, road and pipeline construction that will hurt wildlife
  • waste brine used on roads for de-icing; when ice melts or rain falls, the waste can run off roads and end up in the drinking supply
  • disposal of drill cuttings and radioactive flowback waste in wastewater treatment plants and/or landfills
  • and the fact that millions of gallons of fresh water is being used to frack wells, and each time fresh water is used it is completely removed from the water cycle. 

 

Natural gas drilling is not a bridge to cleaner energy.  

What can you do?

  • Conserve energy at home.  Get a home energy audit, add insulation, lower the thermostat on your heat.  EnergyWorks is a good place to start.
  • Contact your representatives.  Demand more energy subsidies for renewable energy like solar and wind and have them make clean energy jobs a priority. If you don’t know who represents you, look here: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/state/main/?state=GA&view=myofficials
  • Get involved in a group.  There are several local ones like The Delaware River Keeper or Protecting Our Waters.
  • Install solar panels or switch to an energy supplier that focuses on renewable resources like solar and wind. 

Sincerely,

Erin Crump, Blue Bell

Squidward Tentacles January 28, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Not only fracking, I am also really concerned about f**king in Montco. Can anyone get me up to speed on that?
Mary Himmer January 29, 2013 at 12:23 AM
It boils down to where one's information comes from. I have heard that Frack Nation was created by the fracking industry. You can google List of the Harmed if you want 800 stories so far of how real people have been affected negatively. I have gone first hand to see the damage myself in our home state, and have talked to some of these folks. The so called studies are being done in secret, not scientifically. It is time to stand up to protect our land, air, and soil. Mary
Rich January 29, 2013 at 12:49 AM
People may want to read some articles about fracking written by actual scientists, not movie producers. Anything by Sandra Steingraber is a good place to start. Here's a link to one article in the Orion magazine. She has written many more. http://steingraber.com/articles/orion-magazine-articles/the-whole-fracking-enchilada/
JD January 29, 2013 at 01:16 AM
There is a document on the New York Department of Environmental Conservation page entitled "What We Learned from Pennsylvania" is which they discuss methane gas migration from excessive pressures and improperly or insufficiently cemented casings; Inadequate blowout prevention equipment and certified well control personnel were not on site to prevent uncontrolled wellbore release of flowback water and brine; and how Pennsylvania lacked regulations for surface water quality standards, including any regulations to address wastewater treatments plants' discharging of high-TDS wastewater from Marcellus Shale activities. Check it out: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/75410.html. If New York has to learn from mistakes PA is making, shouldn't we slow this down and make sure mistakes aren't being made?
danny roturra January 29, 2013 at 02:15 AM
anyone that quotes rachel carson must be questioned...the renown ms carson KILLED more people than hitler, pol pot and stalin COMBINED. the ban on ddt did in countless men, women and children. so, now the liberals are on a fracking panic...it must be ok if they're against it.
AC January 29, 2013 at 02:16 AM
I have been educating myself about fracking both pro and con for over a year now. And, quite honestly, there seems to be way more information and sound science against the industry. Failure of wells, not being able to treat or dispose of the fracking fluids properly, a huge waste of our natural resource of water, and people and animals being exposed to known carcinogens. Many of the chemicals used in the fracking process the industry won't even disclose. People are really being affected. How about the 32 families in Riverdale evicted because their land was sold to Aqua America? Or see below to the link- List of the Harmed. I do not want fracking to come to this area. However, even if it is not in our area, we are not immune to the problems of well leakage and flowback material in our waters. It is all connected. It seems we have dove head first into this practice of fracking wells without really knowing what the consequences would be. We are now finding out. I am choosing to listen to the science and I certainly do not want to pollute our water, land, and air any more than we already have. We do have alternatives. We need to explore any alternatives to fracking gas. Our children and all the generations to come are worth exploring anything else. You can google just about anything on this topic- for, undecided, or against fracking. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/list-of-the-harmed24.pdf
Mark January 29, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Amen on the "over blown" hype, Dan! Next thing you know, they'll be telling us cigarettes are harmful. There are plenty of movies and nifty advertisements that prove it ain't so.
DARA January 29, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Below is a link to another article about how people, animals, environment, water, food, air, etc, etc, etc are being affected by fracking. Why shoot first and aim later? Why not wait until the health and environmental assessments are completed and then decide where fracking should take place? Isn't our air, water, food, land, health more important than a large corporation's billions in profit? And do we really trust those large, multi-national corporations to look after our interests? or just after their bottom line? Between 2008 and 2011, drilling companies in Pennsylvania reported 2,392 violations of law that posed a direct threat to the environment and safety of communities. And those are just the ones we know about...How many water supplies polluted are too many? How many dead animals are too many? How many sick children are too many? At what point do we say that this isn't free market capitalism? In a free market companies can't pass some of their costs onto other people or organizations - but we, as a society, regularly pick up the costs of fixing infrastructure and paying for increased healthcare costs due to large energy companies trying to extract and burn the last, hardest to get, bits of fossil fuels that will be gone in short decades but leave behind eternal devastation. At what point do we say this may be costing us more than it's worth? http://www.thenation.com/article/171504/fracking-our-food-supply
Critical Thinker January 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Umm... has anyone seen the video footage of how some folks in "fracked" areas can turn on their faucets and light the water on fire? Yes, LIGHT THE WATER ON FIRE. I don't need any reports from either side of the debate to make my decision, just common sense. Water is NOT supposed to be contaminated or flammable for any reason. And yes, I know it doesn't happen everywhere, but do I really want to settle my family, pony up a mortgage and property taxes, and risk my health on the promises of any industry that stands to make money? Am I really going to kid myself that I'll be protected by the EPA? Do I really think that the fracking industry cares that much about me personally? If so, I refer back to the idea of WATER ON FIRE. I'm personally not so soft that I can't scale back my energy use if it means avoiding potentially permanent damage to human health and inhabitability of an entire region. Putting my personal, possibly superfluous, gain over the availability of resources essential to life would be like... well, like trying to establish fracking when you know it can have disastrous consequences. If I dangled my kid over a railing, I'd be put in jail for endangerment. But if I took a long-term chance with the lives of thousands, and there was money or convenience involved, then it's called progress? Nonsense. WATER ON FIRE is not right. That's enough for me to make a decision.
SMYRNA-X January 29, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Im gonna have to check with the expert matt damon before I know how to feel about all this.
CoffeeMom January 29, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Fortunately, the author is not basing any of the points made on information from movies, but from the EPA website http://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing/ The EPA has not completed any study of health impacts from fracking. The EPA acknowledges concerns are already known: -Stress on surface and ground water supplies from the withdrawal of large volumes of water used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing; -Contamination of underground sources of drinking water and surface waters resulting from spills, faulty well construction, or by other means; -Adverse impacts from discharges into surface waters or from disposal into underground injection wells; and -Air pollution resulting from the release of volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, and greenhouse gases. The same document states "some shale gas wastewater is transported to treatment plants ... many of which are not properly equipped to treat this type of wastewater." Another document discusses air quality rules that have recently been finalized. http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/. These may help going into the future, but why were they not decided years ago? "The final rules are expected to yield a nearly 95 percent reduction in VOC emissions from more than 11,000 new hydraulically fractured gas wells each year. ...The rules also will reduce air toxics, which are known or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects, and emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas."
Marie Crawford January 30, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Thank you so much for this article. Fracking is a serious threat to our food supply, farming, our water and our health. I am very concerned about Pennsylvania, which is blessed with great small farms, just the kind that are easy to abuse. Land and water are being made toxic, people and livestock are dying. You can bet if this fracking were killing the cattle on some big feedlot, that this problem would get a response from our government. Unfortunately, PA also has many old, abandoned wells that make this situation even worse. Thank you for speaking the truth. The people who reject the testimony of the people who are harmed by fracking and the people who are making the public aware of the harm just don't know what they are talking about or have a financial gain. Because of this article, I am going on Thursday to protest Governor Corbett. He is turning much of our state into an environmental disaster zone. For those of you who don't believe that our government and the oil, gas and chemical companies are collectively poisoning us with fracking, here is a partial list of people who have been harmed. The harm includes loss of livelihood, loss of farm, death of livestock and families, and disease: http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
Marie Crawford January 30, 2013 at 02:39 PM
You don't know what you are talking about: http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
Cadillac Man January 30, 2013 at 03:41 PM
I say NO FRACKING WAY IN PA!!!! Big Oil/ Gas will take a dump on our great state and leave their poison behind for us to enjoy while they leave with tons of cash! Vote out Gov. Corbett as he is on the Big Gas Payroll!!!!! If you don't believe me... Just look it up for yourself! Ban Fracking Worldwide!
Heather January 31, 2013 at 01:45 AM
really - how old are you?
Marie Crawford January 31, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Steingraber is an excellent resource. Thanks for posting.
Stephen Eickhoff April 03, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Your argument is fallacious. The anti-frackers made their own propaganda movie last year, yet no one calls them out on it. You can't argue against a movie unless you can debunk the facts.
Stephen Eickhoff April 03, 2013 at 02:45 PM
I'm curious as to how water is "completely removed from the water cycle." Is this water somehow chemically transformed? Maybe it doesn't evaporate anymore, thereby disrupting the hydrologic cycle? Maybe it doesn't soak into the ground?
Stephen Eickhoff April 03, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Since you made the claim, the burden of proof lies with you.
Stephen Eickhoff April 03, 2013 at 02:57 PM
"Umm... has anyone seen the video footage of how some folks in "fracked" areas can turn on their faucets and light the water on fire? Yes, LIGHT THE WATER ON FIRE." This happens anywhere there is gas in the water. This can happen naturally when a well is dug. The people who were "lighting their water" already had gas in it (because they were in an area that had lots of natural gas... what a surprise) before the drilling. You were deceived. "I don't need any reports from either side of the debate to make my decision, just common sense" This is just an appeal to your own belief. Logic demands that we obtain all possible evidence before making an important decision. People who think like you wouldn't have dared to ride on a train, because the great speed surely would have caused their bodies to fly apart. "I'm personally not so soft that I can't scale back my energy use if it means avoiding potentially permanent damage to human health and inhabitability of an entire region." But how much do you need to scale it back? Would you set your thermostat to 55 degrees? Would you stop using your car?
Marie Crawford April 03, 2013 at 10:33 PM
NO, water is not completely removed from the water cycle. That's not possible. However, massive amounts of water are diverted from the Susquehanna, and other bodies of water for fracking. This water is then combined with many carcinogenic chemicals and then reintroduced to the water cycle. If and when our state government changes this policy and cracks down on the pollution that is destroying the lives and livelihoods of the people who live near fracking stations, the price of gas will start to reflect the true cost of it's acquisition. New York made an intelligent decision to examine this process in PA before opening their state to fracking. By the way Stephen, I do walk the walk. NO gas use here, thermostat is set at 50°. We limit all consumption as much as possible. I don't like radical, paranoid, or sensational journalism, I check everything out, and I think the discussion is better centered on the facts, rather than picking on people. Also, I continuously challenge my orientation, so that when I have a strong opinion, I openly examine all viewpoints, setting my own opinions aside so I can better assess the truth.
Marie Crawford April 04, 2013 at 01:02 AM
I have an idea, for all of you naysayers who don't believe that fracking for natural gas is a real threat, why don't you walk the walk? Trade homes for six months with someone who's water, land, or livestock has been poisoned, or buy a house in Wellsboro and then sign a lease with Cabot Oil and Gas, or one of the other Haliburton offshoots.Then, you will speak from experience instead of the bias that being against this method of extracting gas is a liberal, or extreme agenda. You can't really know what it is like when you haven't been there.
andthatsthetruth April 04, 2013 at 01:57 AM
I am not trying to step on toes here, but who created this situation? How could the government have approved this process, have problems and STILL allow new construction/ process to occur? It may be unknown to your Government Representative, but you need to encourage them to learn as you have. It seems that individual experiences here should be stressed further. Really.
Stephen Eickhoff April 04, 2013 at 02:49 AM
What is your alternate means of heating, if your thermostat is set to 50?
Stephen Eickhoff April 04, 2013 at 02:51 AM
No, actually, it's fallacious to suggest that I have to live in a house in an area where fracking is being performed to be allowed to have an opinion. That's just appealing to emotions, not reason.
Marie Crawford April 04, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Stephen, I never suggested you can't have an opinion. It has been my experience that it us difficult to assess the effects if our choices on other people, without putting ourselves in their shoes.
The optimist April 04, 2013 at 02:33 PM
i think we should learn from history...love canal...... so let fracking occur but for every hole dug or every 10,000 gallons of "fluid" whether water or something else there should be usage tax put upon the drilling company. That money would goto either future legal claims or if the claims are unfounded returned to said company. Think of it as escrow.
Marie Crawford April 04, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Glad you asked about our alternate heat. We're not a family that can buy into alternative energy so here's what we did. First of all, we have a summer-winter hookup oil furnace for central heat. Using this the way we had before economizing meant that we burned about 1000 gallon of oil each year. Since last August, I have ordered only 250 gallons of oil, and there was 150 gallons in the tank to start and expect to use another 150 gallons through the summer. So that's 1/2 the amount of oil than we previously used. Last year, with a warmer winter we used even less. Here's what we do. It's not perfect, but it does burn much less oil and saves us using roughly 500 gallons of oil. We have become a family again. Instead of retreating to separate rooms to do homework, internet, or hobbies in the cold months, we use our family room and kitchen. In the rest of the house, when it is not freezing, we now actually turn the heat off. Cooking makes heat, I have a small ceramic heater by my desk, and interestingly, our electric bill is not higher (possibly offset by the cost of the oil burner's frequent firing?) We turn the oil burner on for an hour or two each day to do dishes, wash, and shower, or we skip the shower and opt to shower at the YMCA, after an exercise class. If you visited us in our family room, you would find the TV on, the stove cooking, and the thermostat is turned up to 58 degrees when we use the room. TBC
Marie Crawford April 04, 2013 at 03:23 PM
We put a door between the family room and the rest of the house to keep the heat in. When we really feel cold, which has only been about 5 times this winter, we use our wood stove. The stove has a catalytic converter, so it double burns everything, Continued:even the smoke, so that it burns much cleaner than a regular stove. We Continued - When we use the catalytic woodstove use oak from our property that is dying from bacterial leaf scorch, brought to the Middle Atlantic states from a southern leafhopper that can now survive further North than it previously could, so the only trees we cut are ones that are already dying. Other measures: We dry our clothes at night or when heat is most needed, opening the vent to our basement, so that instead of the heat running outside, it goes into the basement, rising to help warm the house. At night, we sleep under down and fleece, or electric blankets.
Marie Crawford April 04, 2013 at 03:37 PM
In 1988, when I bought my first house, my thermostat was set at 72 degrees. By 1998, it was regularly set at 60 degrees. So you can see this adjustment to cooler temperatures has taken place gradually. We are hardier for it. The cold does not feel as cold, and I have learned that rather than needing a constant temperature, once becoming more active in the cold, we just need to be able to warm up. If you came to our house on a winter evening, you would find us together (more people in the same room makes more heat), and see that we wear comfy warm clothes, and have blankets or quilts on our chairs and sofas. Also, we have an heater in the ceiling of the bathroom that is used only when we bathe or shower. Also, we open the curtains on the Southern/Eastern side of our house on sunny days, and close them in the evening. Right now, the outside temp is 44°, our heater is off, the curtains open, and the indoor temp is 60°. We could have switched to gas to save money while it is cheap, but in good conscience, did feel right about this with what is happening North of us. So instead of buying a (temporarily) cheaper fossil fuel, we just use less of our current fossil fuel. This really has not been a big sacrifice, but more of a change of mindset. I now less sensitive to the cold and healthier, too.

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