Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 17, 2013

Here is the other short story of fracking

If you hear commercials on the radio or see advertisements online for natural gas extraction then you’re likely getting the pros of hydraulic-fracturing.

Dominion, Cabot, Chevron, and others would have you think that the Marcellus Shale deposit is a simple story of domestic energy, job creation, and clean power.

However, there’s another position frequently too detailed and without the economic catch phrases to be pleasing to the ear or attention span. This is the other short story of fracking.

Fracking is bad. I mean poison your water, pollute your air, make you and your animals sick, and destroy your property value — bad. And the whole mess is boxed up, covered with dollar sign wrapping paper, and sealed with a ribbon of non-disclosure by the gas companies. Let me explain.

Hydraulic fracturing is a natural gas mining technique that forces millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals (some toxic) into horizontal wells thousands of feet below the ground. This explosive pressure fractures the Marcellus shale and allows the natural gas to be collected and extracted.

At the present, fracking is exempt, through the Halliburton Loophole, to the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and at least five other federal laws which allow companies using the technique to act in ways and keep things confidential that other businesses cannot.

Water: The Bureau of Land Management, Duke University, and the Environmental Protection Agency have documented and acknowledged the consequences of hydraulic fracturing on ground and surface water because of leaking gas and fracking fluids, which contain dozens and maybe hundreds of chemicals that don’t have to be disclosed by companies.

Methane concentrations in sample wells have even been positively correlated with proximity to active natural gas extraction. Imagine the plight of those living in Dimock, Pa., where Cabot Oil and Gas delivers them bottled water because of severe local contamination!

Life: Well workers are being harmed by chemicals or explosions, and hundreds of people and their animals are being affected by carcinogenic, teratogenic, and generally harmful chemicals in unsafe levels such as benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and the zylenes.

Land: Could it get worse? Yes, fracking processes are increasingly thought to be the source for unprecedented seismic activity throughout the country including earthquakes reaching magnitudes of 5.7. With all these troubles you’d probably want to move, but who wants to buy your property if the water is poisoned?

Atmosphere: It’s true, burning natural gas does emit less carbon dioxide than coal or oil. However, it releases much more methane — during the combustion and extraction processes- which doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere but is twenty times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide!

Economy: Natural gas is being heralded as an ideal source for American energy independence yet companies are building plants — like the one proposed in Calvert County — to liquefy and export it overseas to Japan and India!

Studies by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy have also emphasized that the “boom and bust” economic cycles associated with natural resource extraction inevitably leave communities insecure in the long term.

Considering the inherent dangers mentioned above, it would be a grave mistake to allow fracking to threaten the lives of thousands of in the state.

Oppose it in Maryland — vote for a continued moratorium or ban. Oppose the natural gas liquefaction plant (LNG) in Southern Maryland — attend the community meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 in the New Embassy Theater, Cumberland.

Let’s keep Maryland safe and beautiful; don’t allow fracking!

Ben Brown

Cumberland

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014

  • Speed cameras Speed cameras

    We’ve never been big fans of speed cameras, primarily for two reasons. First, because the cameras are not always accurate, and secondly because many jurisdictions seem to create revenue by installing cameras and issuing high numbers of speeding tickets.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Group wants status quo on Sunday hunting

    Many Maryland residents have grown very concerned about two legislative bills that are arriving on the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley after being approved by both the Senate and House chambers this session. With the governor’s possible signature of these bills into law, hunting would be allowed on certain state lands on Sundays — a day in the past reserved for rest and non-hunters to enjoy public lands.

    April 10, 2014

  • New policies will grow better streamside buffers

    Well-functioning forest buffers along streams are perhaps the most effective and least costly best management practice we have to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

    April 10, 2014

  • National Day of Prayer events begin April 30

    The Cumberland National Day of Prayer Committee has finalized plans for the 63rd annual observance, with a prayer rally, a breakfast, an outdoor worship ceremony and youth rally planned April 30 through May 2.

    April 9, 2014