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editorial

Just so much gas


April 28, 2011

“As long as it’s done safely.” It’s a caveat we’ve all heard many times in pronouncements supporting gas drilling.

The desire for safety is certainly not something we would disagree with, but we do have a problem with the way this phrase is used. It is tossed off as a minor corollary to the basic assumption that natural gas drilling is a great idea. Actually gaining assurance that modern drilling techniques in unconventional shale formations will, or even can be done safely, is treated as a kind of footnote.

But until and unless we have amassed reliable evidence on the matter, lauding gas drilling “as long as it’s safe” is like saying “we think natural gas drilling is a good idea, so long as it is a good idea.” If it is not safe, it’s not a good idea; and finding out whether it is or is not requires more than a catchphrase that can be jumped over in our haste to get down to business.

Anyone who really cared about safety would want to examine comprehensive scientific evidence before making any decisions. So far, no such studies on the safety of drilling in unconventional shale formations have been completed. Yet the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has been planning to release final regulations, and commence permitting, without them. In fact, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s statement last week that he might sue the DRBC if it proceeds without scientific studies is one of the first signs we have seen that somebody in authority is taking the idea of safety seriously.

But it’s still not clear that the studies that have been proposed—one by the USGS, under the aegis of the DRBC, and one by the EPA—even if completed, would address all the questions that would have to be answered if we truly wanted to make drilling conditional upon safety. What counts as safe, anyway? Safe to what, or whom? To water, air, human health, ecosystems, farms, infrastructure? What metrics should we use, and will those metrics measure our safety in the long as well as the short run—say, from the increased leukemia rates that are known to result from high benzene concentrations in the air? If people on fixed incomes become homeless because an influx of out-of-area workers pushes rents up, are they “safe?” If exploiting natural gas rather than investing in sustainable energy leads to a few more degrees of planetary warming and a few million more climate refugees, should that be part of the safety equation?

So Much Fear

Pay close attention readers. This is the quintessential anti drilling argument which I shall now attempt to break down into its core components which are chiefly comprised of fear and stall tactics.

Firstly we need studies. Long drawn out never ending, ever evolving massively expensive studies. Perhaps a study of what kind of study we need. Anything at all to delay drilling, not that we will believe, honor or refrain from discrediting everything that study reveals contrary to our agenda.

Secondly, be afraid, very afraid. We need safety metrics because drilling will destroy our air, water, ecosystems, farms (what farms?) and infrastructure so that you won't be able breath, drink, fish, farm or drive. I don't know which one I'm going to miss most. It won't matter because I am guaranteed to be a homeless leukemia patient in a very hot climate. What's the body count on that spill in Bradford? No one knows because Corbett's henchmen in collusion with the DEP covered it up.

Here's the part that really has me scratching my head. The gulf oil spill and the Japanese nuclear disaster are reasons to not drill for natural gas?

This post was designed to give you the same chuckle I get when I read this type of fear mongoring.

EIS

AS I have said so many times: you can't even begin to do minor construction work in most places unless you apply for a permit and if it involves foundation work, digging in the ground, also make sure that you aren't disturbing any groundwater or wetland.

Yet the drillers are coming in, carte blanch, and having their way with our PA habitat without first having done any kind of study to determine the short- and long-range effects of their actions.

This is NOT an environmental approach that makes any sense at all....it's insane.
It is as though someone wanted to use your car for a while-----yet they wouldn't say where they were going, what they were going to do with the car, in what condition or when they'd return it------ and then think it untoward of you when you ask them for that information before loaning them the car.
Yet the analogy would be even better if it were your children who were being "borrowed" . . . because this involves our lives, our health, our homes, what is nearest and dearest to us.

I see nothing in the current situation but to demand an immediate moratorium on all drilling/fracking activity until an extensive Environmental Impact Study is done---preferably one that also has empowerment to make firm recommendations in its conclusions.

The Precautionary Principle is not mere suggestion: it is science, sanity, at its most basic.

the future

I myself consider myself to need more schooling.So i have to ask questions.I know i have been known(self realization)that with the daily grind of earning a living,paying the bills,finding the time after my day ends at 8pm(starting at 5:30am)to change the program or just let those who say they know whats best,...tell me whats best.I believe this is called apathy.
Well i understand sullivan county has been an economically challenged area for a long time now,i think it underestimates it's value.i am thinking if i had big acreage and could reap boo koo bucks pronto,i could give a flying leap what happened in sullivan county.
I remember when i was first made aware of what my father called "natures seal".A poop of an animal is encased in a crust that encases the smell until broken.Like that of a child that doesn't watch where he is walking.
So this Marcellus Shale from what i see is "natures seal".I am trying to wrap my head(just a tiny one at that)around how they can break "natures seal" around the biggest poop in natures history.Is it just me? Or does trapped gas rise?I remember that the trapped gasses rose up and envoloped us in stink.
I would think that the vertical wells first championed as the safe?safer? ways to get this gas was the way to go.Instead of shipping this gas out of the country it should be used as a last ditch effort for our state or country..Like in 2020 if we can't come up other solutions.We will give you food from our resources or you will starve.People can walk but people have to eatI propose a United American Worker/Taxpayer revolt that we have seen in france.I have heard that the french are baby cats.They did however drive their tractors over the government fences.What does make the us? Still in the womb cats?
I am just a simple man with a simple brain but i think that breaking(blowing up) "natures seal" a mile deep for hundreds of miles wide is an idea that should be payed attention to by the big brains.Or perhaps what we perceive to be "big brains" are only lobbied out brains.Maybe it's up to us to say,...these lead wine cups,....are gonna kill us.(reference to mighty roman empire)
We need to kill apathy, before it kills us.

Comments?

We just saw this paper's declared position on comments in its editorial, "A Comment On Comments". It stated:

• No ad hominem attacks, which means, attack the authors’ arguments, not the morals, manners, character or other attributes of the authors themselves.
• In keeping with the above, no use of pejoratives, including no racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted language.
• No statements we know to be contrary to fact

Then:

"but if TheHick or any other user makes a habit of dropping in on threads, executing a single ironic or sarcastic stab without engaging in substantive debate, and using terms that while not, in the literal sense, pejorative, are code or “dog whistle” terms designed to enlist the animus of people who share their prejudices, they will be banned entirely."

Then, in the above story we have:

"He (Governor Corbett) has also issued an order forbidding the DEP from issuing violation orders against Marcellus Shale drillers without having them reviewed by one of his henchmen."

Is the above statement in keeping with this paper's position, or is that position for comments only, and not editorials? Perjorative: : a word or phrase that has negative connotations or that is intended to disparage or belittle : a pejorative word or phrase

Mr Natural---why it is called

Mr Natural---why it is called an 'editorial'. I would think you might comment on the issues. But justifying fracking is hard to do, no doubt.

Very well stated.

Very well stated.

Opinion

And these comments are opinion, much like editorials. Are commenters held to a higher standard than the editors?