Monday, May 30, 2011

Two Different Sides on Fracking--What Makes Sense to You? If You Want to Stop It--GET ON THE BUS!

Dr. Sandra Steingraber, biologist and scholar-in-residence at Ithaca College's Department of Environmental Studies and Science, testifying as to drinking water and air contamination risks due to fracking for natural gas at a NY Assembly hearing on fracking on May 14th.

Posted by: Noël Jones

NEXT ACTION: June 7th--GET ON THE BUS! Protecting Our Waters is arranging bus rides from all over the state to Harrisburg to protest fracking on the capitol steps. There will be many speakers there, including Josh Fox, Director of GASLAND--for more info contact POW volunteer, Sylvia Metzler at so she can set-up meetings with your legislators!

In the above video, a distinguished biologist testifies as to the dangers of fracking for natural gas and its potential cumulative impact on communities and the environment. "Once you shatter rock, you can't unshatter it. And once you contaminate ground water, you can't uncontaminate it." She goes on to say
that when she spoke on a panel recently in Europe, they had no trouble understanding that the proper

sequence with which to approach a new drilling method like this that could potentially have such a large impact is "precaution first, science next, then action." But laments that here in the U.S. with regard to fracking we seem to be taking no precautions at all, acting first (fracking), and then science is scrambling to catch up.

On a completely different note, an opinion columnist for The New York Times, Joe Nocera (and self-admitted friend of T. Boone Pickens) had this to say about why we should move full steam ahead (he makes no mention of health risks at all)...

Please watch the youtube video above (as well as Part II) and then read the article and then post a comment--what do you think?


Steve White said...

I still don't get it. How does using up our fossil fuel contribute to our energy independence? Ultimately our energy independence will be accomplished by a combination of conservation (using less energy) and development of energy sources that don't run out (e.g. solar).
Meanwhile, we are better off using other people's fossil fuels if they can sell it to us as cheaply as we can produce it for ourselves from our own reserves.

noel jones said...

i get really tired of this idea that solar power can't fuel vehicles. we just haven't DEVELOPED it yet. some Europeans invented a one-man plane that can fly (very slowly) on solar power, so why not a car? and if we put real money behind this kind of research instead of researching new ways to pursue ever-dwindling fossil fuels why WOULDN'T we be able to eventually power these kinds of engines. what if a train were covered with solar panels?

the SUN DOES NOT RUN OUT. we just have to develop the technology.

and yes, conserve. and develop mass transit to take the demand for so many cars and trucks out of the equation.

tunsie said...

In places like calif,florida and cars will work but if its not large enough scale some companies wont take the plunge,baby.......I love u noel...tunsie

True said...

Did you see this new video of Gasland director admitting he didn't show the full story -

noel jones said...

Thanks for the link, "True"--I had not seen it. Josh Fox is pretty clear about explaining that he was focusing on residents who could not light their water before the drilling started, and then discovered they could light it afterward.

Your point is well-taken a point. There are biases on both sides revealed in this clip. The bias of a film maker to not include unrelated information about rather rare occurrences of naturally occurring methane in water (I have heard of one of these in near a waterfall in the northern part of NY state, that was considered holy by Native tribes) when he is focusing on new occurrences of methane in TAP water, and the bias of the person asking the question, in that he refuses to acknowledge what the director has explained about the difference, and is clearly just trying to use unrelated material to damage the film maker's credibility. The questioner is most likely either a) pro-drilling, or b) a envious documentary film maker who is jealous that Josh Fox got nominated for an Oscar.

It is always good to keep our wits about us and be honest with ourselves about ALL bias on both sides. We all have biases, and the only way we are ever going to make progress as a society is if we seek to self-educate honestly, as opposed to cherry-picking evidence that supports our personal bias.

Links like this are great for group discussion, both about the issues themselves, and the additional issue of media spin, because what we see happening here is the same sort of biased exercise on both sides that happens on both liberal and conservative cable news networks and confuses the people watching--or rather, since most people only watch the networks whose bias they already agree with, it doesn't confuse them but rather VALIDATES them, rather than offering an opportunity for real self-education.

I take that back. Cable news networks are more like this clip on crack.

noel jones said...

Some Alaska trivia: I gotta tell you, I'm worried for my home state. I just found out yesterday that Alaska's economy is 86.5% oil. That's compared to 19% in Texas and 26% in Louisiana. I have always known that oil is important here, but I had no idea that our economy was that dependent on fossil fuel. People here are worried about oil depletion and how to keep oil companies engaged in exploration. My baby brother Erik is a boat captain in Whittier, AK (sight-seeing and transporting kayakers), and he makes no bones about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. For him, it's not about a moral question, or even a question of military spending (although he does get mad about military waste)--he just shrugs his shoulders and says, "we need the oil."

I worry that this is becoming Pennsylvania's attitude about fracking for natural gas. "We need the money for our schools." So the potential loss of safe drinking water in our homes is pushed aside for a need that feels more urgent. One big difference though. Alaskans really do run their entire lives on oil, because everything is so spread out--car driving distances, boat driving distances--and the weather is so cold for so long--not to mention that oil is where the jobs are, and where everyone's annual permanent fund dividend check comes from (the People's cut on oil revenues). But there is nothing that any of us on this planet needs more than safe drinking water. If we're not careful, clean drinking water is going to become more valuable than gold.