Friday, November 20, 2009

Pa. needs assurances that 'fracking' is safe

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Nov. 19, 2009

In "Money, it's a gas" (Nov. 11), The Inquirer rightly tongue-lashed the state legislature and Gov. Rendell for caving in to Big Gas. A separate story that day reported a great leap backward: 32,000 more acres of state forest lands are leased for gas drilling.

Natural gas is 95 percent methane, a greenhouse gas already responsible for one-third of global warming.

Adding injury to injustice, Big Gas uses toxic technology: horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing - "fracking" - to extract the gas.

Four facts:

Fracking operations use millions of gallons of water per gas well.

Companies mix "acutely toxic" (Environmental Protection Agency designation) chemicals into the water. It is forced underground to fracture the Marcellus Shale, which lies under 63 percent of Pennsylvania.

There is no way to safely treat the wastewater, which also contains metals from deep underground and radioactive materials.

Fracking is exempt from major provisions of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Since key federal regulations do not apply, and the state Department of Environmental Protection can't regulate this rush, we must demand an environmental impact statement for Pennsylvania from the EPA. Until that's done, we need a fracking moratorium in Pennsylvania.

Iris Marie Bloom



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