And then the cock crowed three times.
If I'm going to wear a label, call me pro-business: the business of fostering sustainable jobs that create the most good for the greatest number of people, both today and years from now.
MANY years from now.
The question my geology professors asked years ago still remains: when all the shale gas and tar sands are exhausted, what then?
Tom said he'd recently attended a gathering at a local middle school where gas industry representatives spoke about shale gas extraction, or fracking. He said they said the chemicals used in the process, (mixed with water from our rivers, I might add), are injected far below groundwater tables, with no possibility of cross-contamination.
(The gas companies' chemicals are proprietary mixtures -- they don't have to reveal the ingredients. But it's a sure thing that you wouldn't want it on your breakfast cereal; hydrochloric acid is probably a big part of that mix).
He also said they use less water in the process than hydroelectric dams.
Wait... water over the dam is still available for people to use. But water that's been mixed with toxic chemicals and injected deep underground, so deep that there's no possibility it will ever re-enter your water table, as the companies claim, is gone forever.
Tom also said fracking has been done successfully in Texas for years.
But Pennsylvania's rock layers are a lot more complex than Texas -- upended into mountains, folded and fractured. If you've ever seen the orange mud at Lancaster County Central Park where a long-closed landfill is leaching into the Conestoga River, you understand how toxic waste buried deep finds ways of reaching the surface. (To be fair, that landfill is shallow compared to the depth of the tight shale formation. Yet how deep is deep enough to prevent chemicals from leaching through fractures and fault lines over time?).
I asked Tom, if fracking is so safe, why don't the companies inject markers, such as a dye, with their proprietary mixtures, so that they may be held accountable if water becomes contaminated with methane and fracking chemicals? Tom said that would mean putting even more chemicals into the ground. But the marker could be something simple and non-toxic.
Accountability is key. That's why government regulation and independent monitoring of the wells are so important.
A June 28 BBC News report summarized a report from the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering that said shale gas extraction is safe "if firms follow best practices and rules are enforced."
The report said the risk of gas contamination in people’s drinking water is low “provided that fracking takes place at a depth of many hundreds of metres, a long way below the level of aquifers, and that the wells are properly constructed.”
It also criticizes “the US practice of leaving [waste water] in open ponds, which would not be permitted in the [United Kingdom].”
Additionally, the report notes the need to address the climate impact of the carbon released from the rock.
The article doesn't mention what water source is used in the U.K.
Saturday, July 28, many people are traveling to Washington, D.C., to speak up about shale gas extraction.
(see http://www.stopthefrackattack.org/lobby-day/). One of them is Rev. Jerry Lee Miller (no relation). Jerry is organizing a bus group from Lancaster. He's also been working closely with people in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, who were evicted when a landowner sold the property for a water pumping station to take Susquehanna River water for shale gas fracturing.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission allows companies to take up to 91 million gallons of water per day, but projects that at peak operations companies will average about 30 million gallons per day
(http://www.srbc.net/programs/natural_gas_development_faq.htm, see Question #3 under "Surface Water...Withdrawals").
I pay $120 a year for my household water. What do the gas companies pay?
Jerry wrote, "We have to stand in the way of the destruction of our Earth, our homes and wildlife habitat. We are called by the highest moral law to protect the water, air and land from poisoning."
As someone who is pro-business, I have to agree. Now is the time to invest in long-term, sustainable, clean energy that won't leave a legacy of uprooted lives, poisonous ponds, and ghost towns.