America all fracked up

Though I do not attest that fracking is a momentary economic boost to a location, it is only such a boost to the landowner that leases the property. To say that it brings monetary relief to whatever economy it enters is almost like saying invading troops bring a boost in agriculture when they steal and pillage the farmlands. To allow fracking to continue is simply throwing more dimes in the bottomless well that oil has produced. I completely understand that it is financially easier to allow oil companies to continue their course of reckless endangerment, than it is to attempt to revamp our environmental excavation of natural resources. The truth is, fracking allows gas companies, like Halliburton and Shell, to continue their upward climb in the stock market and denies them the responsibility of cleaning up any spills, leaks and contamination to farmlands and communities. But, I simply ask, “At what cost?” It is somewhat disheartening to see that the Department of Environmental Corrections (D.E.C.) put out 1,000 pages of restrictions, legislation and rules that the gas industry will have to adhere to in order to horizontally drilling in New York. But, what the pro-frackers are not discussing or even mentioning is the complete lack of manpower, funds or even willpower that the D.E.C. has to uphold these rules. New York state is on the verge of collapse due to the terrible fiscal year it has had and the D.E.C. does not have the adequate funds to hire more officers to enforce these codes. In a sense, these 1,000 pages are simply fluff to silence the concerns of citizens.

It also concerns me when I found out the gas industry actually paid Penn State $100,000 dollars to write a favorable case study on the fracking industry. I think anyone who reads up on the subject can attest that Pennsylvania has suffered terribly due to lazy regulation enforcement and lack of any liability from the gas industry. Due to the slipperiness of the provisions in the Clean Water Act, Halliburton, with help from Dick Cheney, is able to pollute our water by dumping their heavy-metal-laden sludge into drinking water; all in the hopes that dilution will prove the better and people will not suffer terribly from the carcinogenic toxins Halliburton dumps. The gas industry is also exempt from the Clean Soil Act, the Clean Air Act and the Superfund Act. How is it a feasibly safe method when the only acts that would prevent the introduction of toxins, heavy metals and acids into the environment have become completely circumvented? At what cost to us do we allow such disastrous introductions into our world? True, the regulations would allow a safe extraction, but I think it is overly evident that the D.E.C. is completely ill-prepared to enforce the new laws and produce anything other than face time with new papers that fine the occasional small infraction.

If it is true that farmers are paid a substantial amount of money for the use of farmland, then what will happen to the farm if, or when methane seeps up into the soil? Puncturing into shale requires a tremendous amount of force, and shale itself allows for a great deal of spider webbing when struck. So, would it not be feasible to assume that these microfissures will allow toxic gases to reach the soil? Or the fact that they must let some of the gases they use come to the surface to allow the toxic chemicals they use for lubrication? All these disastrous possibilities and more, only for a temporary boost in revenue, while the gas industry stands to make billions off of their land. Another startling fact is that fracking does not bring jobs into an area, instead it brings white-collar engineering jobs, well-building construction jobs that are filled by out-of-state workers, and does not provide adequate jobs to the already poor county it wants to enter.

I see none of the pro-frackers speaking of any real environmental issues, aside from the occasional mention of the 1,000 page D.E.C. Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) document, which they use as if it were their only shield to protect them from addressing real environmental issues. Sometimes they simply state studies or statistics that have been funded by SHALE and other such gas industries. Simply look to Pennsylvania, and see how real scientific research can be obscured by monetary gain. I am saddened that such environmental issues, issues that are at the forefront of all possible environmental disasters, are simply broken down to monetary sense. It is disgusting to see such reckless and haphazard destruction of our environment simply because the funding that would normally go to alternative energy research continues to go to propaganda research, and the continuous propulsion of a dying gas and oil industry.

At what cost and at what limit should we set to stop the ever-apparent destruction of our country? The truth is there is no way to prevent spills and leakage, and this comes from D.E.C. studies. We are producing a quick fix to obscure long-term disaster and long-term pollution. The drilling may be done far away from streams, but not from water sheds and underground pathways, which lead to waterways that flow into rivers and lakes. I do not want to give the land to my daughter, as a sterile, over tapped and completely desolated land, only to be able to say, we managed to make a few bucks to last us five or 10 years. I do not want her to have to clean up the messes left by us, as my generation was left to clean up the messes left by our apathetic prior generations.

So I ask, “at what cost should we allow our environment to be destroyed?”