Thursday, April 29, 2010

Letter to the Editor: No Fracking Way

By Jennifer De Shields

To the editor,

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently posted an opinion piece on the good that gas mining will do for the region. A major gas mining project is about to take place in New York and is already taking place in Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing is a mining technique that shoots water, chemicals, and gels into the ground at high speeds to force either oil and gas up. The gas industry is happy about America’s endevers into gas mining, they view it as a safe, clean energy that weakens our dependence on foreign oil. They also tout it as a solution to the job crisis. These would all be great things if they were at all true, but unfortunately the gas and oil industry is pulling to wool over American eyes once again.

Although some forms of natural gas may be clean burning, the methods of extracting them are anything but clean. Before the water and chemicals ued in hydraulic fracturing, they shot diesel into the ground. Although they no longer use the diesel method, a lot of diesel fuel is burned operating each mining machine. The chemicals used to fracture the ground can be very toxic and can cause series health problems. These chemicals can also contaminate local water wells and other sources of water. Some storage facilities for chemical laden fracturing waste water are literally nothing more than tarps about as thick as your average hefty trash bag in large pits. People in towns where hydraulic fracturing is taking place are complaining that their water is filthy and unfit for human consumption. A man in Colorado can literally light his water on fire because of all the chemicals in it. Also many of the mining companies will bring in workers from out of state to do work, so it’s questionable how many local people they actually hire.

These mining companies are trying to make natural gas seem like an easy and clean solution to oil and gas, but it isn’t. I think it’s time that we start investing in actual renewable resources like wind and solar power, instead of promising to bring change with a different version of our original problem.

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