G-Comm™: Here is Some Attitude and Important Facts on Fracking

The Gilmer Free Press

It’s a lie to call the people fighting fracking in Central West Virginia “environmentalists.” None of them belonged to environmental groups before fracking came along (myself excepted, more about that below). They are property owners, perhaps a little better educated than average, and most of them have been out in the world at some time in their lives to see what it’s like elsewhere. We chose to live here, connected to the biological world, in peace and serenity.

What we are going to lose is our families’ health and property – neither of which is ever counted as a cost of fracking. It is “suck it up fellow, you don’t know what you are talking about,” if there is any reply at all to our complaint.

It is not hard to see what happens as a result of fracking – take a tour nearby and have a look, if you have the courage. Talk to people where it is going on. They are glad to warn you. Look for “water buffalos,” a sign of lost or contaminated water. Notice the broad gravel roads up steep hills and the drilling platforms (which require many acres of ground) being reduced to subsoil and then covered with enough crushed rock to support water trucks and rigs in any kind of weather.

Notice miles of forest cut for pipeline right of way, timber production gone for as long as the pipelines are in use. If you go near the drilling rigs, notice the noise and the lights at night. And day or night, notice the flares of the very gas they come to capture. As you drive along back roads, notice the compressor stations which will provide excess light, noise and “odeur de hydrocarbure” for decades for the “lucky” people who live there.

If you are the stay-at-home type, a flight over the fracking fields via Goggle Earth might be the ticket. Order up a town West of I-79 and fly around over the country side at a few thousand feet. Jarvisville, WV, would be a good choice. You don’t have to look hard to find a pipeline, then follow it to the well pads it serves. Keep in mind that fracking is just getting started in WV. If all goes as planned, there will be a drilling pad with roads and pipelines on almost every square mile.

Having environmental concern is certainly proper. There are a lot of things to worry about today. If it weren’t for the Koch brothers and others like them in the hydrocarbon industries who pump millions into disinformation, we’d all agree about global warming. Some 97% of scientists agree it is happening.

What does this development do for property values (look up “property values near fracking” on the net, but don’t forget “property values near sand mines,” because the land is “screwed up” in Wisconsin and Minnesota, with mining of proppant sand for fracking). What about the cost and discomfort due to sickness caused by fracking (look up fracking disease).

It is as though property rights, your right not to be injured by someone else, right to enjoy your peace and quiet is revoked whenever someone wants to frack. Is the energy situation so bad the nation has to cause asthma and abortions to get energy?

Think about it. Environment is a general classification, including all kinds of harm to the natural, biological world, from effects on tiny creatures to redwood trees and polar bears and whales. This concern is a good thing. The human race is capable of making chemicals in quantities which decrease the life sustaining capability of the biosphere. It appears the biosphere has no natural defense, but making money always has a strong offense.

However, people in central West Virginia are worried about particulars. Their concerns are on the ground and right now. It is their lives, their families, and their neighbors they are talking about.

“In the interest of full disclosure,” as they say, this author was a member of a small environmental group, Guardians of the West Fork, before fracking became a concern. The Guardians principal business is cleaning up “acid mine water” from mines abandoned one hundred years ago, using tax money. If you have worked around old mines, oil and gas remains from the first wave of petroleum exploitation running from the 1880′s to the 1930′s and strip mining, as I have, you get a pretty good idea of what mineral extracting industries get away with. You recognize the land goes on forever, giving food, timber, fiber, clean water, and cleaning the atmosphere, but mineral extraction is a flash in time, depreciating the land’s capacity to produce. Understanding this, sort of gives you an attitude.

Alternate energy is desperately needed. And it is being blocked by many of the same people who are benefiting handsomely by reducing our health as well as abridging our right to enjoy and profit from our own property. That’s not an attitude, that’s a fact.

~~  S. Tom Bond, Retired Chemistry Professor & Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV ~~

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