Fracking Taps a Mile-Deep Danger
By Rachel Morgan
Jan 28, 2013 – Judy Armstrong Stiles had no idea what she was signing away when she and her husband Carl agreed to let Chesapeake Energy operate natural gas wells on their Bradford County land.
That was three years ago. For Carl, it was a lifetime.
Soon after the company started using hydraulic fracturing to develop the horizontally drilled wells, both she and her husband began suffering severe rashes. They also complained of stomach aches, dizziness, fatigue, aching joints and forgetfulness, Stiles told Shalefield Stories in November 2012.
“We saw doctors who tried to figure out what was wrong with us,” she said. “Our symptoms mirrored so many other diseases and disorders. The doctors could not figure out what the problem was, and our health kept deteriorating.”
A few months later, a large hole that gave off a terrible smell and leaked a foam-like substance opened in their front yard. Then their daughter moved in and soon she, too, was sick.
Stiles said they paid to have their water tested — water Stiles said was yellow and odorous. The test showed their water was contaminated with lead, methane, propane, ethane, ethene, barium, magnesium, strontium and arsenic. They called the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which made a “visual determination” that their water contained methane.
“We felt that we finally had proof that our health problems were a result of some sort of contamination.”
Fracking protesters gather Sunday before a giant papier-mache pig along Mount Jackson Road in South Beaver, Lawrence County. The protesters chose the pig because of a drilling site019s proximity to a nearby organic farm, where pigs are raised, and what they termed a 01Cpiggish gas industry. (Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette)
By Janice Crompton
January 28, 2013 – Maggie Henry won’t feed her livestock soybeans because she is worried that the beans have been genetically modified. Instead, the organic farmer from South Beaver, Lawrence County, grows her own wheat and other grains to feed her pigs, chickens, cows and other livestock.
But that isn’t Mrs. Henry’s chief concern these days.
Just 4,100 feet from Mrs. Henry’s green pastures lies a gas well operated by Shell Appalachia.
And Mrs. Henry isn’t the only local resident concerned about the well, where a group of about two dozen activists staged a protest Sunday afternoon.
With shirts that read "Protect Farms for our Future," four of the protesters latched themselves to a 7-foot by 12-foot papier-mache pig, meant to represent the "piggish gas industry," Mrs. Henry said, as well as the livestock at her farm.
Quick Money Or Long-Term Health Concerns?
By Lynn Peeples
POINT MARION, Pa. — Dave Cogar counts down the days until he’s fracked.
Through a haze of cigarette smoke at the Brass Rail bar here, he laments about living on welfare. He still finds jobs where he can — working construction or fixing computers around this small town south of Pittsburgh — but he says he’s fallen short of creating the life he wants for himself and his teenage son.
So he’s come to the conclusion that natural gas hidden in the Marcellus Shale, thousands of feet beneath his rural Pennsylvania land, may offer him a second chance.
About a year ago, he signed a lease with Chevron, one of a handful of energy companies vying for rights to tap the abundant underground gas in this area. Now Cogar awaits an anticipated windfall of up to $300,000 a year for the next decade or so, according to his own estimates using figures a lease salesman ballparked for him, as well as the written conditions of his lease. The money won’t flow in until Chevron starts injecting pressurized fluids into the ground to fracture shale rock and forage for gas, the controversial process known as "fracking," but Cogar believes it will happen soon. Chevron declined to discuss the details of their agreement with Cogar.
"It should be safe, and the money looks good. Now it’s just the waiting. Like Tom Petty says, that’s the hardest part," said the bald-headed and goatee-chinned Cogar between sips of beer. He began belting lines from the song — and other Petty classics — a few moments later, attracting the attention of fellow bar patrons.
The natural gas rush is on in Pennsylvania, as well as in a growing number of other shale gas-rich states such as Texas, Wyoming and Colorado. New York and Illinois are primed to join in. For residents living near the drilling, the easy money to be had by ceding their land to drillers often competes with their concerns about drilling’s impact on their health and well-being.
Livestock Falling Ill in Fracking Regions, Raising Concerns About Food
By Elizabeth Royte
Beaver County Blue via Food and Environment Reporting Network
In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying.
While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.
Earlier this year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.
The authors compiled 24 case studies of farmers in six shale-gas states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, describes how scores of animals died over the course of several years.
‘Right-to-work’ legislation proposed in Pennsylvania legislature
By Ned Resnikof
Beaver County Blue via MSNBC
Jan 22, 2013 – A little more than a month after Michigan Republicans successfully passed landmark anti-union legislation in their state, members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly are attempting to follow in their footsteps. Six Republican state representatives are each bringing their own “right-to-work” style bill to the State House floor, as part of an effort collectively known as the Open Workforce Initiative.
One of the legislators involved, Rep. Darryl Metcalfe, has reportedly introduced right-to-work bills during every legislative session of the past 14 years. ”The framers of our Constitution did not intend for our government to become an enforcer for unions,” he explains on his website. “Working men and women should have the freedom to join a union if they choose and to leave that union when it is in their best interest to do so.”
Metcalfe’s success record so far might reassure union allies that Pennsylvania is unlikely to turn into another Michigan. In fact, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, said as much during the Michigan right-to-work battle, telling reporters, “There is not much of a movement to do it.”
However, Corbett has also said he would sign right-to-work legislation if it came across his desk.