Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Look You in the Eye and Lie... It's the new "Integrity"

The line in the sand is being drawn more deeply. Proponents of shale gas drilling are making assertions, in much the same way those who oppose universal health care are inventing 'boogeymen' to scare those who are not taking the time or interest to educate themselves to the facts. It's easy to scare people like that, nothing stands in the way. Euthanasia for anyone who gets sick after 74... BOO!

In the case of gas drilling, just the opposite tactic is being used. Industry pitchmen and politicians warn of the consequences of NOT signing on to drill, luring folks in with energy independence and economic prosperity (good for the U.S. and good for YOU). They call the industry clean, safe, responsible and well-regulated... everything gas production is repeatedly proving it isn't. But that's the tactic.

(Look you in the eye and lie.)
It's hard to be heard speaking truth to power when the power is perhaps the most powerful of all. Critically however, the truth is more than inconvenient. It's vital and imperative. Either it's sooo seductively lucrative to shill for the shale, or the media just isn't doing its homework... or both, who knows??? However, almost daily, this blog presents its readers with facts from around the country, from places and people experiencing the negative impact of this unregulated industry, an industry given carte blanche by the Bush administration to pursue the money buried deep in the earth in the form of natural gas, basically however it chooses. They are heedless of the landscape or the lifestyle, of even the health and safety of the communities they invade. The pipeline goes through your perennial garden, a well gets drilled a mere 200 feet from your back door. Or, two wells get dug behind your child's school. (See Gas Wells Are Not Our Friends: Chesapeake Energy Wants Gas Lease at Towanda, PA, Elementary School ) Fluids spill, sludgepits overflow their liners. When they contaminate an aquifer, they improvise. 17 cows died when they got into some pools of fracking fluid that leaked down into their pasture, 150 feet from the well pad. The fluid was more than 99% freshwater, the Chesapeake spokesman said, less than 1% proprietary ingredients. In other words, it doesn't take much, even a very weak cocktail is lethal. Who will guarantee the safety of the school children? These things aren't supposed to happen... but the frequency with which they do is alarming. Particularly from an industry with a "clear record of environmental safety".

Here they come, ramping up for the battle charge! It's the industry and their band of merry (congress) men. Propaganda is their first line of attack. (See below.)

PA Congressman: Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Drilling Critical for State’s, America’s Economic Future

By Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson

Pennsylvania’s economy, especially in the seventeen rural counties I represent, has been hit hard by the recent economic downturn. Unemployment is at record levels, families are struggling and Washington’s response has been to shovel a trillion plus dollars out the door in make-work projects that haven’t stimulated much more than our national debt.

But there is hope and it is in our own back yards. Better put, it’s about 6,000 feet beneath the surface and it is called the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation. It stretches from New York to Kentucky with most of the clean-burning shale gas located in Pennsylvania. Some scientists believe it is the largest natural gas reserve in the world. If the energy industry is allowed to continue to harvest Marcellus Shale gas, it will create more jobs and bring more wealth to Pennsylvania than any industry in the history of the state.

Clean, safe, responsible, well-regulated Marcellus natural gas production in Pennsylvania has already paid dividends for our region and Commonwealth. According to a recent Penn State study, Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling last year generated 29,000 jobs, added $2.3 billion to the economy and generated $240 million in state and local taxes. For 2009 the estimates are 48,000 jobs, $400 million in tax revenues and economic output will top $3.8 billion.

Without the environmentally safe and proven 60-year old drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, the clean-burning natural gas could not be produced from the Marcellus or any other place in the country.

Despite its clear record of environmental safety (a million wells drilled) and strong regulation by the states’ environmental protection departments, a bill, S.1215, introduced by Senators Casey (D-PA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), and mirrored in the House, HR. 2766, would redirect fracking regulatory authority under the EPA in Washington. While some claim that these efforts are merely aimed at frac fluid disclosure - even though Pennsylvania’s DEP lists these fluids online - the consequences of this legislation are much greater. It will give the Sierra Club and others opposed another tool to stop drilling by tying the process up in the courts for years. As stated by a Sierra club affiliate: “In the absence of government protection, the last resort may be the legal system.”

In the study conducted by the independent Penn State experts, they concluded that this legislation could “pose yet another serious threat to the development of the Marcellus Shale.” Describing the legislation as “ominous,” the professors determined, “There is little question that this type of legislation would accomplish little in terms of protecting potable freshwater but would be disastrous in terms of the domestic oil and gas industry, raise prices for gasoline and natural gas, and ultimately derail any efforts to address the need to reduce carbon emissions.”

The Marcellus Shale presents a tremendous opportunity to expand and grow Pennsylvania’s economy, get people back to work, decrease our debt and lessen our dependence on imported energy. I will continue to work to help ensure that happens through maintaining support for the state regulation of hydraulic fracturing, and opposing legislation that would impede Pennsylvania’s safe, clean, and well-regulated development of energy.

Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson represents Pennsylvania’s fifth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. To learn more about Congressman Thompson, visit his website at


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