The City of Arlington, Texas has a Gas Drilling and Production (GDP) Ordinance that calls for a 600 foot setback to protect citizens from the many, documented dangers and health risks from living near gas wells, but under pressure from industry and those whose lives won’t be affected, the Arlington City Council issues one “Special Use Permit” (SUP) after another. The drilling ordinance was established to protect people. The SUP indicates that certain citizens are considered collateral damage and are disposable.
This is from one of Arlington’s disposable citizens, Gretchen , who has advanced emphysema and is waiting to learn if her life will be “drastically shortened by the dust and foul air”:
I attended a sickening council meeting last month. A ‘girl next door’ looking rep from one of the gas companies stood over a group of children who were getting awards for an art contest, sponsored by the gas drilling company. She tried to convey that they were just part of our caring community. Children aged five led the pledge of allegiance. Oh, and there was the prayer and even Jesus was dragged into the farce. It was hard not to puke.
The art contest was sponsored by Chesapeake Energy, of course. They did the same thing in Fort Worth: FWISD Caught In a Barnett Shale Web of Deceit. They are doing the same thing in the Marcellus Shale area where they have taken over the a local paper and are offering EdUKaShUn to the young people there: Chesapeake Energy, The Daily & Sunday Review announce major Newspaper In Education sponsorship. This is part of their propaganda campaign to fool the local people who will soon become disposable citizens just like Gretchen.
Each site looks like a bulls-eye. Those too close begged the council not to change the zoning distance from 600 to 300 feet. Those further out far outnumbered those up close, as they always will, and wanted the drilling AND the money. Too bad the prayer didn’t mention “Love thy neighbor as thyself” But, no one should have had to mention that. You can bet those far from the well would not have wanted the drilling right next to their houses. In the end, only one council member voted against letting drilling proceed too close to the objectors homes.
Now, the thumper trucks have tested the ground right next to me. I have half of one lung total breathing capacity, when it comes time for me to beg, “Not here, please.” I am sure it too will fall on deaf ears. In addition, I have asthma severe also. I am too sick to move away, and too sick to stay if they do this.
Someone should note that those who don’t have mineral rights to their property, did not get a discount either on their land, or on their property taxes. The phrase “surface owner” makes it sound like people own the top quarter inch of the dirt. If the field next to us has a separate mineral rights owner, we most surely will lose this fight. He/she will not care if these acres are ruined for future development of shopping areas, or banking, since nothing could be built right over a former well site.
I am in a waiting mode now unable to get much information to see basically if I will have my life drastically shortened by the dust and foul air, or not.
You can watch video of the council meeting HERE. scroll to this meeting: Evn. Meeting March 24, 2009 4 hrs 27 min. and Click on Video, Gretchen’s testimony is at 1:56:49 in the tape. (Or to open a Windows Video click HERE)
And you can bet that if water and air is fouled, it’s just part of the price We the People have to pay so Big Oil can make that profit. From un-naturalgas.org‘s latest newsletter:
Here’s what John Hanger, acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said in an interview with Reuters’ Jon Hurdle:
“You can’t do a large amount of drilling and have zero impact. There’s going to be a lot of good that comes from drilling in Pennsylvania, but there are also going to be some problems.”
According to the Reuters story, Hanger “acknowledged that some of the chemicals could be dangerous to human health but said that risk has to be weighed against the benefits that will come from the exploitation of what he called the ‘enormous’ gas reserves contained in the Marcellus Shale.
“‘Some of these chemicals are things you couldn’t drink. There’s no doubt about that,’ he said. ‘We have processes that go on in our lives all the time that involve these chemicals, and we run a certain amount of risk because of the benefits.'”
Pictures of seismic testing taken from Gretchen’s yard:
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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First of all, Gretchen’s situation is heartbreaking. Another tragic example of how much people, human beings, don’t matter to this industry.
Every day I get more and more outraged about Chesapeake Energy. It’s not that they are the only gas company, of course, but they are the most noticeable “in your face” outfit in Bradford County, PA, right now. They have given a check to a Headstart program, have “graciously” presented “educational” programs, and now have co-sponsored a “Newspapers In Education” program as you have noted here. Sunday’s editorial in the Towanda Sunday Review (PA) was almost more than I could take. Here it is:
“Give gas firms a decent chance to do right thing”
Published: Sunday, April 12, 2009
“In coping with the varied aspects of the natural gas prospecting phenomenon in Bradford County in the months and even years ahead, one thing is certain. It is that an
overriding level of respect and trust must develop between the private sector and the public sector if the drilling is to
be successful to all concerned. Honest, forthright dealings
must be the hallmark of such a relationship. We have some of the top companies in the field at work as major players in the Marcellus Shale exploitation, including Chesapeake Energy, a major national corporation that holds the largest number of gas leases in
Bradford County, and Fortuna Energy, the largest driller in New York State. Firms do not get respected national reputations without sound, ethical business practices. That should not be lost in the cacophony of hysterical
hearsay about what may or may not be happening with some of the many other natural gas exploration
companies at work elsewhere in the country where conditions may well not be the same as here. So, when dealing with these companies locally, it makes sense to us that the initial approach be that of equals intent on doing the right thing. Local municipalities, as well as the state and feds, need to be firm but reasonable in protecting the public interest in infrastructure and environment to the extent that they are empowered to do so, and the companies need to be upfront and reasonable about being good neighbors, employing good practices, and readily paying their share for any damages and other expenses for which they
are responsible. So, in the case of North Towanda Township’s request that Chesapeake post a bond to cover the cost of
repairing roads damaged by the firm’s heavy equipment, we suggest giving the company the benefit of the doubt and listening to its proposal. Bonding is an approach of interest elsewhere and PennDOT already has posted weight limits on some Bradford County roads. How adversely that might affect local residents who need the services of other non-drilling firms with heavy equipment remains unclear, but could prove to be an
Chesapeake says it’ll do better than what the township will
get through bonding and without the legal entanglements. Now, that’s an offer you don’t often hear. The township wants to check with its solicitor before making a final decision. We think that’s a good idea, as well. But, again,
we urge giving the company a chance to prove itself before
engaging in any unnecessary sanctions. Giving a reputable company the benefit of the doubt here could be a major step forward in cementing a relationship
that will be mutually beneficial to the parties concerned,
including the residents of the area. What’s more, it may help establish a gold standard for other firms to follow. It’s
a win-win situation.”
Gold standard? Mutually beneficial? Reputable? Ethical? Honesty? Respect? Trust? What are these phrases doing in an article about Chesapeake Energy? They hardly fit.
Note: I left a reader response online last night (to this editorial), and surprise- it never appeared, and this morning the editorial was missing. Usually editorials stay online for several days before being removed, presumably to give citizens a chance to respond. I think that the newspaper got so many negative responses, including mine, a “cacophony of hysterical hearsay,” in the words of the editor, that they chose to pull the editorial. Just a guess.
“With all the lipstick you put on it, it’s still a pig,” Roberts said. “It is still a media campaign for the company to get people to sign their leases.”
We feel your pain, Peacegirl.
I tend to be naive at times. Is it possible that the Sunday Review in Towanda, PA, was somehow compensated, shall we say, for running that editorial?
I simply can not imagine having such a commotion going on that close to where I live. That is seriously messed-up. I’d like to see the CEO’s of the oil companies allow this in their neighbourhood!
oh pshaw! this sounds like a cacophany of hysterical hearsay!
it’s going to be nicer here than it ever was… sleepy old, poor old do nothing county… what’s your problem?