Saturday, October 23, 2010

Water and Power

As the story of natural gas extraction in Northeastern Pennsylvania unfolds, the thing to keep in mind is that it isn't primarily about natural gas.  The issue here is water.  Water wells being contaminated and rendered unusable.  Creeks and streams being contaminated by chemical spills or sucked dry so the water can be used for hydraulic fracturing - "fracking."  Methane bubbles appearing in the Susquehanna shortly after nearby gas extraction operations commenced.  Planned drill sites next to the Huntsville Reservoir, the source of water for hundreds of thousands of local residents.

And, as in the classic Jack Nicholson movie Chinatown, the issue is also one of power.  In this case the water isn't the source of power - to the drillers, water is a secondary thing, as is the gas itself.  The primary concern for them is money.  Money to be made, money to be spent.  Money is power.  Money is influence.  Money will buy you what you need.

Gas companies are pouring tons of money into the upcoming elections.  Their sponsored candidates are doing well in the money race.  And the politicians already in office who have received generous bribes payoffs contributions from the gas companies have already given their corporate masters a return on their investment.  As of now, Pennsylvania will have no tax on natural gas extracted.

Gort42: No tax on Drillers

This is a critically important situation locally, but it is progressing at a pace that seems both ponderously slow and completely inevitable.  People on the periphery of the situation take the attitude of spectators at an ongoing disaster; people on the inside are either being paid off to maintain their silence or give their support, or are the demonized victims accused of standing in the way of progress.  Government agencies are either underfunded to the point of impotency or are in collusion with the money-spewing companies they are supposed to be regulating.

The inevitable conclusion to these events seems to be a region devastated, left with a patchwork quilt of contaminated groundwater, poisoned creeks and streams, and an irreparably damaged river.  Perhaps the natural beauty of this area will appear to remain, but it will simply be a top-dressing for a toxic mess underneath - like the neatly landscaped terrain atop a landfill.

This isn't just a local issue.  What happens in Northeastern Pennsylvania doesn't stay in Northeastern Pennsylvania, especially in things involving water.  The Susquehanna winds through this area, meets up with the Western Branch, and heads south to Harrisburg and then on to the Chesapeake.  Contaminated water in NEPA means a contaminated Chesapeake Bay.  Will the folks who rely on that body of water be willing to lose it for the sake of some shady financial transactions going on hundreds of miles to the north?

Read further:

Susquehanna River Sentinel
No Frack Mountain
Fracking Underground
Protect the Endless Mountains of Northern PA
The Frack Country Blues
Northeast PA Green
Faces of Frackland

1 comment:

frackmountain said...

Thanks for your continued advocacy of sanity. All the blogs you link to
are caches of information which splash out across the fracing blogosphere.

We have to find a way to speak as one. United we can stand divided we continue to fall...