Leave It To An Oil Company

Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on October 22, 2011

Fracking – oil company – energy – NYSDEC – New York fracking – Pennsylvania fracking – hydraulic fracturing – marcellus shale

Do you trust your friendly neighborhood oil company?

Do you think that the company that drills for oil really cares about you or the environment? Think again!

Your local energy company is creating thousands of jobs, because they are going after a cheap and easy source of energy: the natural gas under our ground, using hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Let’s just take one example, the Marcellus Shale area, which underlies three states: New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) makes a strong effort to protect its citizens from sloppy well placement and drilling, to implement pollution mitigation strategies, and to allow citizens input and education into the process of energy mining. Ecology and Environment Engineering, P.C. published an impressive study of the social and economic impact such drilling will have on their communities: Socio-economic Impact Analysis (PDF)

From this study, I found out that infrastructure (read: pipelines) have already been developed in Broome, Chemung, and Tioga counties, even before research had been conducted into the impacts these explorations and the subsequent drilling would have. In other words, energy companies put the cart before the horse because they know they can muscle their way in by hook or by crook.

Pennsylvania had over 3,000 wells built from 1996 to the present. The lack of solid research, inspections, and investigation to prevent drilling problems there resulted in lawsuits against the energy company. For an article about such lawsuits, visit: http://www.legalnewsline.com/spotlight/232091-pa.-fracking-case-among-first-involving-marcellus-shale

In New York, people concerned about the effects of fracking thought it best to learn from the mistakes made in Pennsylvania. The NYSDEC published a Review of Selected Non-Routine Incidents in Pennsylvania (PDF). I hereby quote from this review:

“In 2009, the appearance of methane in water wells in an area in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, was attributed to excessive pressures and improperly or insufficiently cemented casings at nearby Marcellus wells.1 Numerous occurrences of methane migration into residential water wells during 2010 in Tuscarora, Terry, Monroe, Towanda and Wilmot Townships, Bradford County were attributed to the failure to properly case and cement wells.2”

The fact of the matter is: without the NYSDEC reviewing well sites for their residents, the energy company might have taken liberty to drill first, then answer questions later. And the Republican motto is: what do we need the EPA for? They’ve done their job; now they can all go away! Is it no surprise that energy companies, who back their platforms would want the regulations (that kill jobs) to just go away?

In addition to problems of methane containment, I found this disturbing information in the above document: “The discharge of fluid from the well pad was caused by the failure of stormwater controls on the well pad due to extraordinary precipitation and other factors.4”

In other words, when there is rain, and storm waters reach high levels, there is a much greater chance of chemicals in the drilling process reaching our lakes, waterways and drinking supply.

The beauty of cancer, from the outlook of an energy company, is that it is hard to prove that cancer is caused by any one specific environmental source.

But then again, cancer is big business! So let’s all get some. Tomorrow, I will post the leading chemicals used in fracking and how they affect your health.

Alternatively, we can look at renewable energy because after all the natural gas in the ground is pumped out, what will our descendants do? Let’s clean up our act. Let’s make our new jobs focus on clean energy, not more of the same ol’ dirty ones.

If you want to read how an oil company puts a spin on these practices to make them seem innocuous, read here: http://www.exxonmobilperspectives.com/2011/10/20/selling-short-sighted-tax-solutions-to-super-committee/

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