Sierra magazine published an article in its July/August 2012 issue called the “Fracking Nightmare.” I read the article with interest since I live atop the Marcellus shale region of western Pennsylvania. Washington County considered the “honeypot” for the “wet gas” resources underground. Those resources include propane, butane, ethane and other profitable chemicals.
Interestingly, until 2010, the Sierra Club supported natural gas as a “clean” alternative to coal and its coal-burning power plants. But this practice of pulling the gas up out of the ground was rushed into production with coal’s nasty image tarnished and rising oil prices without much consideration of what it takes to get the natural gas out of the ground.
It’s a brutal practice outlined in the article. The farmers, who thought allowing the drilling on their lands and who thought it would be a way to safe their farms, are finding out differently. While the gas companies pile on the profits from drilling on the farms sitting on top of the Marcellus shale, the farmers are paying the price. Local communities are now powerless in Pennsylvania to do much of anything since Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a prohibition on allowing municipalities to have any say at all in permitting and enforcing the gas companies’ practices.
The article, while attempting to look at all sides (albeit with a definite bend toward the environmental side) and attempting to explain their past support and now withdrawal of support for natural gas drilling, left out one important footnote.
An earthquake in Ohio earlier this year shook more than the foundations of homes. It left folks puzzled until a report was released that linked the earthquake to the fracturing taking place there.
In researching for my next novel, I’m discovering that there are no easy answers. I’m also accepting that we are all to blame for this rush to find more and more sources of power. We can all be a part of the solution, too. Please share the links in this blog. Being an informed citizen is the first step.
(NOTE: I usually don’t use Wikipedia as a link source, but when I put in “Marcellus shale,” I either found a link decidedly pro or con. This was the only one that provided the “facts” I was seeking.)