Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fracking and earthquakes

A friend of mine pointed me to a fascinationg article at Global Research, "Oil and Gas Collection: Hydraulic Fracturing, Toxic Chemicals, and the Surge of Earthquake Activity in Arkansas." It's illustrated with some interesting maps and graphs, is heavily footnoted with official documents, and is authored by a guy with a BS in Natural Resources from the Ohio State University School of Agriculture. There is no question that increased earthquake activity has occurred in the precise area where the fracking process has been expanded in that state--even if you can't prove the connection.

The author, Rady Ananda, also suggests a possible connection to the mass bird deaths around the world. The redwing blackbirds killed in Arkansas, because they roost at night in great flocks close to the ground, would have been particularly susceptible to the release of toxic gases from the shifting ground during earthquakes.

With today being opening day of this regular session of the West Virginia Legislature, whose early moves on legislation regulating gas drilling in this state do not inspire confidence, it's good to see the Charleston Gazette continuing to shine a spotlight on this issue. Monday's edition had a "deep green" perspective on fracking from Carol Warren, "Gas drilling poses threat to people, environment." Here's the core of her argument:

"Studies by MacArthur Genius Award winner Dr. Wilma Subra have shown that people in communities where there is gas drilling and production often have a dozen or more of the chemicals used in the process in their blood. Dr. Dan Volz, of the Center for Healthy Environment and Communities, at the University of Pittsburgh, stated that even if levels of individual chemicals or volatile organics in the air or water are each within a range considered safe, 'No one, and I repeat, no one, knows the cumulative effect on human health of drinking or breathing a number of those chemicals at the same time. The data is not there. But absence of data does not indicate absence of risk.'

The gas companies like to paint the Marcellus shale boom as a wonderful opportunity for our state. Perhaps it is for some. If we are to believe Nick Casey's Jan. 3 op-ed, a law permitting forced pooling, which the gas companies want, is the only regulation currently needed.

But the industry studiously neglects to mention what is happening to people in other areas of the country where natural gas drilling and production have been taking place. Health and neurological problems, loss of water supplies, an industrialized landscape, damage to soil and water, air-quality issues, and country roads ruined by heavy truck traffic are only a few. Some people have lost the insurance on their homes because the insurance company considered their property toxic and too risky to insure."

--Michael Hasty

No comments: