A press release received from grass-roots group involved in Philadelphia protests:
Philadelphia, PA – As shale gas and oil industry CEOs continued their annual attempt to convince the public that shale gas development is clean and safe, Philadelphia organizers held a Water Drive and Conference to expose the “true cost of fracking,” while calling for a halt.
Even Pennsylvania’s conservative regulators have confirmed that there have been 161 “cases” (many cases involve multiple families) of private drinking water well contamination between 2008 and 2012, with 1000 complaints about water impacts. Headline-making news about fracking’s climate impacts continues to emerge, and intense air pollution from drilling, flaring, gas processing and compression is creating emergencies in fracked communities.
Many impacted residents have been silenced by non-disclosure clauses, by fear, and by exhaustion, but many continue to have the courage and drive to speak out.
“We are surrounded by gas wells, by flaring, and by seismic activity,” said Gerri Kane of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, one of the recipients of the Shale Gas Outrage Water Drive. “We had to install a methane detector, and the impacts to our water have included high uranium and heavy metals. My radon level is sky-high at 20.8 picocuries per liter; the EPA Action Guidance is at 4.0 picocuries/liter.
“After the water went bad, it wouldn’t freeze and became foamy and bubbly. I got headaches and stomach cramps; my dog had seizures, threw up, and died with bloody diarrhea; both my partner Kenny Macialek and I developed skin rashes and lesions, and even the bird got diarrhea. When a substance from flaring coated our yard, plants and trees died. My heaven has become hell.”
From out west, where shale gas drilling has been going on longer, came a voice of warning:
“I live in central Wyoming just east of the small town of Pavilion, said John Fenton, a rancher and farmer living with water fouled by fracking. “The beautiful area in which we live has been forever changed by the oil and gas industry. The mountain views and open spaces have been industrialized and scarred. Dozens of wellheads, production pads, pipelines and compressor stations now fill the landscape. Our water has been contaminated and noxious fumes sicken us. We worry about the health impacts that this is having on us and our children. Our heritage and the life we have built are being destroyed one piece at a time. We have seen the value of our property drop by fifty percent. Unfortunately we are not the only ones that this is happening to.
“Everywhere oil and gas fracking is taking place, people and the environment are paying a heavy toll so that the oil and gas industry can turn record profits. Both state and federal governments have ignored repeated violations of human rights and the destruction of nature, often blinded by the huge amounts of money industry pours into contributions and lobbying. What is your future worth? How much is your children’s future worth? Is this a government of, by, and for the people? Or is it a government owned and controlled by wealth and corruption? The true cost of fracking is more than the people or the Earth can take.”
Craig Stevens, a 6th generation landowner from Silver Lake Township, Pennsylvania, will take many of the jugs of water gathered in Philadelphia to PA residents whose drinking water has been contaminated by gas drilling. Stevens said, “When your family has lived in Pennsylvania for 200 years and your neighbors’ water starts going bad all around you, you have to decide if you will stand with your neighbors or the gas industry. I chose my neighbors.
Stevens, whose home is in Susquehanna County, continued, “While the victims were being treated like villains, their neighbors stepped in to help. I have watched the clear-cutting of trees, contamination of creeks and rivers, and pollution of the air. Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ What will you do?”
“I have studied the issue for years, and my goat and vegetable farm stands in harm’s way,” said Stephen Cleghorn, PhD, of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. “I join in the call for a moratorium, and I’ll enact a one-man ban if I have to in order to keep fracking away from my farm.”
On the Philadelphia front, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown said in a statement, “We are very proud of the great record Philadelphia City Council has of standing up to protect the Delaware River watershed. Councilman Jones and I have passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on fracking, and in support of a statewide moratorium to protect water and health. The mission of protecting our waters is never done.”
After their Water Drive Send-off featuring vehicles carrying water to impacted communities in Pennsylvania, organizers held the “Freedom from Fracking 2013” Conference for the rest of the day, with 21 speakers. Topics included resistance to pipelines and exports; health impacts; shale gas economics; workers at risk; and fracking’s contribution to the climate emergency.
Organizers of both events: Protecting Our Waters, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Clean Air Council, PennEnvironment. To view all endorsers, Conference schedule, and more: shalegasoutrage.wordpress.com