That’s the way it works in some countries. It’s called the Precautionary Principle and it means that the Big Gas Mafia can’t use their anecdotal stories about having drilled safely for decades. They will have to prove it with science and that will never happen.
“Development of hydrocarbon resources underground is strategic for our country but not at any price,” Sarkozy said during a visit to Ales in southern France. “This won’t be done until it has been shown that technologies used for development respect the environment, the complex nature of soil and water networks.”
The French government plans to revoke shale permits, including one held by Total SA, because of concerns over the environmental repercussions of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which was made illegal in July.
In the United States, we don’t do things that way. We rush head-long into situations that create all kinds of misery for our citizenry. Then when the citizens bring tens and tens of thousands of stories showing how they and the environment have been harmed, our government allows industry to say: “Prove it.”
That is exactly what happened to one Arlington resident when a Chesapeake Energy facility had a huge release that made her family sick. The woman she spoke with at Chesapeake said, “Prove it!” Nice folks over there at Chesapeake. This Arlington resident told her story to the EPA last Thursday at the public hearing.
Here is what she said but I have removed her name:
My name is Citizen XYZ from Arlington, TX. I am a conservative wife and a mother who has lived in the same community for 25 years. There are at least a half dozen drill pad sites within two miles of my home, some of them having up to 20 wells. The drilling for natural gas less than 2,000 feet from our home has dramatically impacted my family’s quality of life and consequently has propelled me into a fight to protect our lives and the environment.
Since the onset of drilling operations I have been experiencing negative health effects, so I personally began logging these symptoms in October of 2010. The most prevalent symptom has been long-term headaches lasting up to ten days, and a neighbor reported having severe headaches lasting three weeks. I am also experiencing a lot of fatigue, another symptom neighbors are testifying to. Other symptoms are nosebleeds, burning eyes, sore throat, slurred speech, weak extremities, dizziness and blurred vision. We hear strange noises and smell strange odors. The fear of the unknown with lack of regulation has had a real physical as well as emotional impact upon us.
One day, I decided to call our Chesapeake neighborhood representative to share with her these negative health effects I had been experiencing which I believed was a direct result of the toxins being emitted into our air. She said, “PROVE IT!” At that moment I realized I was up a creek without a paddle.
And speaking of water, I would like to mention that just last month Chesapeake was found in another violation at our well pad site – this time for illegally trucking water across the city line to frac a well in a city that had water restrictions in place due to the drought. Although our city knew what they were doing, they didn’t cite them until the media exposed their actions. Yet the maximum fine of $2,000 will be considered just a mere cost of doing business. And this brings up another important issue – what will be the long-term ramifications of the billions and trillions of gallons of water that are now being removed from the water cycle forever? Mankind has survived thousands of years without natural gas but has always required water to sustain life.
Now I want to tell you what happened on April 11, 2011 at around 2:30 a.m. A storm had blown through the area knocking out power which in turn had thrown a compressor station offline which then caused two separate malfunctions to occur at our drill pad site. Anyhow, since the storm blew in a cool front, we opened the windows and went back to sleep. Later, a terrifying sound like loud jet-engines woke us up. It would not stop. We called 911, but the operator was unable to provide us with clear direction on what to do since our City did not have emergency protocols in place for this type of situation. Simultaneously, a similar incident was occurring on the other side of town which had probably confused the 911 operator. Our entire home was quickly filling with a filthy smelling stench of chemical odors and gases. My husband and I stepped outside to see what was happening and we could feel the weight like a heavy blanket of fumes covering the neighborhood. The whole experience was surreal. We quickly went back inside and scrambled to shut all the windows of our home. I was feeling utterly helpless seeing my 11 year old daughter lying in bed getting a chemical exposure in her sleep. After some time, my husband proceeded to start his truck and drive to the Fulson pad site to see what was going on or if emergency crew was there – totally unaware at the time that his vehicle could have exploded from the gases which had settled over the neighborhood. There was no one at that site, but the well was still venting gases. It vented for approximately 1 ½ hours. Meanwhile, back at the house, I reported the incident to TCEQ. TCEQ’s report which came out 4 months later, stated that no violations were found. Mind you, they did not arrive on the scene until approximately 8 hours later to investigate but by that time reported ‘no odors detected’. How much longer will this powerful, unregulated industry be permitted to legally poison us? I am weary of living this nightmare.
All we want is to be able to live peacefully on our property. As American citizens we are asking the EPA to once and for all put an end to this self-regulating of a very dangerous industry right next door to our homes, our schools, our churches, and our parks. Human life must trump corporate profits.
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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Interesting that the federal government via the FDA requires that pharma & drug companies perform clinical trials on large populations of patients before they are released to market and in order to state particular claims, document safety, and potential adverse effects. After approved for market, there remains a method to report any effects directly to the federal government. Patients have a right to FULLY INFORMED consent before submitting to any medical procedure………..
Yet this novel drilling technique – that to be honest, NO ONE including the gas companies knows very much about with respect to environmental and public health consequences – that has the potential to impact far more than only those who “consented” (leased) to it…….has been essentially forced upon the nation?
Tad Ghost Hole says
I really wonder what would have happened if her husbands car had exploded. Would that finally “prove it” or would O&G merely say the car spontaneously combusted? Its scary how not only are they legally poisoning us all through long term exposure to known carcinogens but in this case they could have asphyxiated these people on gas and chemicals .