by Kathryn HIlton, Campus Coordinator PA, Sierra Student Coalition
A week ago today, 9/20/2012, there was an incredible gathering of minds and bodies in Philadelphia, Pa to show OUTRAGE for SHALE GAS DRILLING. So adamant about the importance of this message it was even the name, Shale Gas Outrage.
When I moved to Pittsburgh to work with the Sierra Student Coalition, I thought my main focus would be on coal-fired power and rebuilding a network of youth activists. Of course these are priorities, but all of a sudden Hydraulic Fracturing walks up and slaps me in the face! I am now exposed to a whole new world of injustice and dire importance in Pennsylvania. I’d known fracking was bad, but oh my, I literally start tearing up when I think about how awful it really is!
Did you know last year, natural resource extraction and mining was 2nd in most workers killed with 715 total deaths? Or that there are counties in PA where water is shipped in because people can no longer drink from their contaminated wells? How about, the fact that there are over 8,000 well sites in PA alone?
During the Shale Gas Outrage, hundreds of people came together to listen to affected persons tell their stories, hear leaders of the environmental movement inspire, and demand to know how these frackers could live with themselves while they painfully kill others. The streets shook with our presence! This week, these dates, were not chosen by accident. During this time, leaders in the drilling industry were having their own conference... we were not invited. Hearing from other activists about prior infiltration at one of their conferences in Texas, I believe they discuss ways to discredit people who know, discussing how to manipulate the public and make us look bad- industry keeps telling lies, lies, lies! It’s all a big TOXIC SECRET
! Ideally, our presence shook the conscious back into some of them, but it is hard to say. Some people are just profit driven… I guess.
On the day following the rally, there was an incredible symposium on "The Potential Health Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing". It was hosted by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. This conference covered the lifecycle of the process, and even included the implications on our food. …ON OUR FOOD! This was something I never considered. Michelle Bamberger, MS, DVM and Robert E. Oswald, PhD conducted a study on, "The Impacts of Gas Drilling on Animal and Human Health". They traced back several instances of death and sickness on farms pretty close to the contamination by “accidents” occurring at fracking sites. Unfortunately, none of this is conclusive because the industry pays off people who are impacted and those people, in turn, sign non-disclosure agreements. I cannot image what a difficult position it is to have my land and livelihood ruined.
I cannot give these people their water back, but I can work so no others face this type of loss and intimidation!
Now, let us take one step further with this ridiculously corrupted industry and see that vast amounts of money are not their only tool they also have a wonderful loop hole, you may have heard of it, called HALLIBURTON. Under this amendment to the 2005 Energy Policy Act, Fracking is exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and others! Industry need not release the ingredients of the toxic cocktail they flush into the earth, back out again and then dispose of by far less than satisfactory means.
The most important tidbit I took for reiteration of the impacts is CUMMULATIVE EFFECTS-
all water and air is connected.
Even if this issue is not directly around you, cummulative effects will bring it to you. Cummulative effects WILL bring it to YOU!
I’VE BARELY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE!
The absolutely crazy thing about this blog entry is that I am in Pennsylvania, but these problems also exist in: Ohio, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Colorado, California, Montana, Michigan, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Kansas- plus a few others (map of drilling in US). And now consider: the US is only one of many countries fracking for gas.
Oh what the FRACK are we getting ourselves into?
-IF you feel OUTRAGED, good. You should! Now, let us help prepare you with skills to make a difference in your community, organize the masses and take ACTION to protect ourselves!
For now, I’ll say goodbye, return to my work in PGH, and let you simmer for a while.
Sierra Student Coalition Campus Coordinator, PA