At a recent Bartonville Town Council meeting where the council members debated whether to allow yet another Barnett Shale fracking permit, it was reported that the mayor favored allowing the permit because he thinks “only a few people suffer adverse health effects” from the natural gas extraction and processing in their neighborhood. Well, Dear Mayor, as the collector of the stories of those who suffer, I can assure you that more people suffer than you can even imagine. Regardless of the number of suffering, my question is: Who decides who suffers?
A few weeks ago, I took some stories from those who suffer to Washington, D.C. Included in my presentation were stories from twenty different residents of the Bartonville and Argyle communities. There would have been more, but people are busy and keeping a detailed timeline of health effects and environmental events from the natural gas facilities is time consuming. I promised to forward to the EPA the straggling stories as mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and teenagers find time to submit them.
That people living in the gas patch suffer is not new news and is no longer debatable. The proof exists in every gas patch across the nation.
You should think long and hard about my question: Who decides who suffers? Unless you are the decider, you will eventually suffer. Natural gas extraction in the Barnett Shale is only in the beginning stages. “…there will be more drilling because, in the scheme of things, it’s probably just begun,” Ed Ireland, Director of BSEEC, industry’s propaganda arm, said in a video, Industrial Pollution in Wise County. No one in this area will escape the impacts from natural gas extraction.
We are led to believe we must suffer for the sake of national security, for the economy and for jobs. You decide who suffers by believing industry propaganda without question. The trail of manipulation is easily followed. Using national security and energy independence as a lure they set the hook deep into your fear. They reel you in with the line of economic growth and land you in their net of lies about jobs. Gasping for air you hardly notice when they switch the bait and sell your national security, your energy independence to China to increase their profits. Too late, you realized you’ve been filleted.
The suffering, to a certain degree, is not necessary. It’s a choice made by the Big Gas Mafia and enabled by our elected officials and propaganda. Is the choice then, my health for your job, my clean air for your national security, my safe water for you royalties? Those are all false choices as yet another report confirms.
There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about new and emerging EPA regulations. Lots of folks in pollution-intensive industries would like you to believe that those regulations will crush the economy, leave grandma shivering in the dark, and smack that ice cream cone right out of little Jimmy’s hands.
Got it? No jack-booted EPA thugs are going to “shut off power” to your home. Your toaster will turn on every morning, just like always. The economy will continue growing, as it has in the face of previous regulations. Industry will flush its previous fear-mongering down the memory hole and pivot to fear-mongering the next set of regulations, in keeping with its fine traditions.
Meanwhile, the air and water will get cleaner. It’s all good.
I don’t believe industry has a viable answer for the water issues. Drill for natural gas, pollute water is a fact. Drill for natural gas, deplete water is a fact. Industry is not required or motivated to innovate and develop better methods when campaign contributions buy them a pass to pollute and destroy our water.
The air pollution issues absolutely can be prevented and the technologies available pay for themselves in recovered product. Wyoming requires Best Available Control Technology, BACT, and industry complies with those requirements in Wyoming. The very same operators who use BACT in Wyoming refuse to do so here–to the detriment of the health of our children and our neighborhoods–because it is not mandated by our elected officials.
Since seeing is believing, my friends in Wyoming sent the following pictures of BACT that is currently in use there.
To illustrate my point, here is how Williams does it in Wyoming:
Williams operating in our backyard:
Let’s have a better new year in 2011 with clean air and safe water.
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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Tim Ruggiero says
Well written post. I think this should be at the forefront of your blog, because this is what it really comes down to. We've seen for quite some time-decades, even-the Industry and their high profile highly paid PR mouthpieces consistently state that it's all about Jobs, the Economy, Reducing Our Dependence on Forign Oil, A Matter of National Security and a number of other false truths. Not far behind is the TRRC Buffoons like Victor Carrillo, who carefully reads the scripts in public that have been given to him by Industry Whores like Julie Wilson.."There is not one documented case of contaminated water by hydraulic fracturing" ins pite of the fact that dozens and dozens of people are not only stating the contrary, but providing the 'documentation' as well. Then we hear from the Gas Mafia Bosses about how 'Safe' it all is, that there's no possible way aquifers are being contaminated because the drilling is thousands of feet below the water table-and out of the other side of their mouth comes "We cannot control the frack" and then quietly provide drinking water to those affected-with the stipulation that if victim says anything, the water will be shut off.
Lastly, we have quite a few Mineral Right Owners Groups and Gas Mafia "Puppet PR Groups" like oxygen depraved Gene Powell and paid liar Ed Ireland who run around claiming "All is Well, move along, now, folks".
If everything is so 'safe', why all the exemptions? If it's such a boost to the 'economy', why is Ft Worth more than $5 BILLION in the hole? If it's about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, why all the foreign investors? And lastly, my personal favorite-If gas development is so great and wonderful and profitable and safe, why is there not ONE single Gas Mafia Boss or any of their Lieutenants, Enforcers or Henchmen with a drill rig, tank battery, compressor station, pipeline or toxic waste pit 200 feet from their homes?
Great post Sharon. thanks
Look closely at those photos and you will see no homes, schools, churches or businesses nearby.
Which doesn't mean the handful of ranchers out there — and the wildlife — don't require care and respect; they do.
And they got it.
I agree, this gets to the heart of "what next?" That there are solutions have been lost in the debate…It's never been a matter of if, but how. And I didn't know that there was a safe 'how' until I saw your post. This has taken the edge off of the fatigue of knowing what's wrong. Thanks for culling the massive amounts of data into one place! It's my go-to source when I tell people about the dangers of gas drilling.
Westchester Neighbor says
It seems clear that the best protections for all this gas drilling are in the home state of the guy who made it all possible! Wow.
Runner Susan says
Gas Mafia. That says it all. Well put.
So thats what vapor recovery looks like, I thought it was a myth