TURN OFF YOUR HEAT
One of the newest and dumbest arguments used against
anyone who is concerned about the environment is,
“If you don’t like the natural gas drilling and the fracking process, turn off your gas heat!”
harkens back to the old slogan used when there were
protests against the US war in Vietnam, “Love it
or Leave it.” In other words, your dissent meant you
should move out of the US instead of working to
change and improve things. Fact of the matter is, if
you do “love it” you stay and work for positive
change, instead of having blind acceptance of the status
quo. The US wouldn’t celebrate July 4th if this same
sort of blind acceptance had ruled the day!
NIMBY - Not in my back yard?
The “turn off
your heat” argument is every bit as hollow as “love
it or leave it.” What the argument suggests is that
you “suck it up” and tolerate the degradation of
your air and water quality with blind acceptance,
instead of working for improvements. Fact of
the matter is that everyone; citizens, politicians
and members of the natural gas industry should all
have the same goal. Not shutting off the gas heat, but
instead ensuring responsible production of natural
Every company in
the world has the same goal of being profitable. But
those profits should never be allowed to violate
common sense and individual rights, by cutting
corners on environmental protection. Natural gas can
be produced more responsibly, but it will take a
concerted effort by citizens, politicians and
regulators to force the gas industry, if necessary,
to cut profits enough to use best practices while
innovating safer practices, thereby providing
the best possible safeguards for human beings and
the environment. We only have one planet. Love it or
NASA - Earth
23, 2000 - High pressure centered over the
had created a capping inversion. Forest fire smoke
air pollution accumulated under the inversion.
Some gas drilling companies will use a photo of a kitchen
spice rack while discussing frac fluids.
They will tell the audience: "We only use a few
just 4 or 5, and
this is everyday stuff you use in your house."
Spice racks hold ingredients for cooking, not ones
Frac fluids put a nurse in Colorado
into organ arrest after she came in contact with
a drilling worker soaked with frac fluids. The good
news is that she lived. Bad news is that it
took more than 30 hours before she could be
from intensive care. These are POTENT "spices" indeed!
As far as the volume of
fracking "spices" used, it would take a swimming
pool to hold the 20,000 to 30,000 gallons
used in each Marcellus well. That's a
lot more than a teaspoon of spice!
fluid containers on a flatbed truck
People learn that hydraulic fracturing fluids
coming back out of the ground (flowback or
produced water) contain high
levels of salt which are bad for the
environment, so the gas drilling company 'spin' will address
this topic very simply. They tell the crowd they
could drill for 10 years and not create as much
salt runoff as the Pennsylvania highway department uses for
de-icing roads during one winter.
OK then, we need the
roads salted for safety and winter
transportation, but do we really need gas drillers
adding that much salt to the environment,
especially when most of it gets inadequate
treatment (other than dilution with treated
sewage) before being dumped back into our rivers, where we get
our drinking water? What about the radionuclides
Brine tanker headed for a disposal site.
can easily be 5-times saltier than ocean water.
RESTORED TO THE SAME OR
profess that they will put the land they use for
gas drilling pads, frac pits, pipelines and
other facilities back into the same or better
condition. While they might get some vegetation
to grow, it will never be the same.
Have you ever tried to get
gravel out of soil? What about gravel the size of a
softball? Most of these sites are
developed with hundreds of tons of large pieces of limestone which
are nearly impossible to remove from the
Did they spill anything?
If so, what did that leave in the soil to eventually
leach into your ground water and water well?
Other questions to ask.
Large pieces of
limestone left in a farmer's field near his well site.
Creation of a Superfund site?
"Restoring" a gas well site by digging
and contaminants from the production pit on this
well pad into the landowner's ground.
ZERO CASES OF DRINKING WATER
Gas drilling company PR staff continue to state with
certainty that there have been no documented cases
of drinking water contamination in the United States
What about Dimock Pennsylvania, just
to name one?
Be sure to ask your drilling
company why so many people near drilling
operations are being provided with water buffaloes
at the drilling company's expense. Just a
coincidence? If you haven't heard about these cases,
that is because they had to sign a "hush" agreement
to keep getting their free water.
water replaced by a water buffalo
WATER PROBLEMS AND GAS DRILLING
Late in 2008, about 1/3 of a million Pittsburgh
area residents were treated to "chunky" water
that being tap water that was much higher than
normal in TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) from the
industry consortium commissioned a study by Tetra Tech in an attempt to show that
drawing millions of gallons of water from
surrounding streams and waterways had little to
do with the terrible tasting drinking water.
Using their numbers, and assuming the study was
correct.... they said hydraulic fracturing of gas
wells contributed to less than 7-percent of the
chunky water problem (Keep in mind this study was
done by an industry paid contractor).
This high-TDS situation is
aggravated by a couple factors:
1) low river flow in the Mon River due to massive water withdrawals
for fracking, and
2) the dumping of high-TDS drilling brine into the Mon River
Low river flow occurs primarily during drought periods. Fall 2008
was very dry with a Pennsylvania drought warning finally being issued
on November 7th. This low water condition was aggravated by
taking free water out of local streams and watersheds to provide the
millions of gallons of water required to frack (correct spelling is 'frac'
which is short for fracture) each Marcellus Shale gas well. There
are environmental regulations concerning the 'dewatering' of
streams in the Clean Streams Law, but enforcement is lax to non-existent in
The dumping of drilling brine back into Pittsburgh tap water sources
became a serious issue when ill-equipped waste treatment plants
were accepting all the
drilling wastewater they could get. The extra
business greatly improved their bottom lines. However, most were not equipped
to handle industrial grade wastewater and much of the processing was
incomplete. Even well-equipped treatment plants have difficulty
removing salts from water, so they count on dilution as the key to
solving a high TDS problem. The more drilling brine is watered-down,
the story goes, the closer
the water will come to having acceptable TDS levels and be
considered at "safe drinking water levels."
In early 2011 the issue of
radioactive frack water came to the forefront with
the publication of a New York Times article. Radium
226 is a soluble component of Marcellus Shale, so it
only figures that it can easily return up the well
bore with other fluids used for fracking Marcellus
Photo below: Three
tankers pumping water out of
a stream running low due dry summer conditions
on Marcellus Shale near Houston, Pa. Is
gas well fracking more important than aquatic life in
trucks removing water from a stream experiencing
low flow. Washington Pa. Firefighter Academy in Chartiers Township