The River Reporter has done a good job of alerting us about gas drilling, and the devastation it’s wreaking in Pennsylvania. You might not know it is here in our neighborhood. It appears the 10 Mile Boy Scout Camp is selling, or has sold, drilling rights to their land for $3 million, plus $1 million a year if they strike pay dirt. What does the Tusten Town Board know about this? What rights do we people living in the area have? Water and air don’t stay put. Our children drink this water, and breathe this air.
There was an interesting article in the New York Times about it the drilling recently. It says, in rather glowing terms, that if they were able to get every bit of the natural gas out of the entire Marcellus shale deposit - admittedly impossible, because some of it is 9000 feet deep, and, the article might’ve mentioned (but didn’t), PEOPLE LIVE ON IT - it would fulfill US needs (at the current rate) for… 2 years! What happens when those 2 years are over? There are so many things to say about this short-sighted article - how it blinds us with economics, and doesn’t mention human costs, how it ignores the fact that sand and water are NOT all the fracking process injects into the shale, but hundreds of toxic chemicals, which are making their way into our water and air.
Many of us have been concerned with environmental and human rights issues for a long time. Some are fighting NYRI’s proposed high power lines now. Some have become educated about how coal mining destroys the health and way of life of Appalachian people. Most of us are against the bloody war for oil in Iraq. We’re bowled over by the massive prospect of climate change. And we’re connecting the dots. We are learning about, and struggling to afford, more sustainable homes and livings, or to educate ourselves and others about renewable energy.
I think this is all the same struggle. The problem is our government’s misguided, short-sighted, and predatory energy policy, controlled by big business. Specifically, the Bush/Cheney Energy Policy Act of 2005, which made big energy companies exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. This sneaky “law” (drafted by lobbyists and members of the industry themselves) is what we’re fighting in effort to keep power lines off our land. The lack of these protections is what is causing kids to get sick in Appalachia, as runoff off from mining operations pollutes their wells. If these laws don’t apply to the biggest polluters, who are they for? And what is the war in Iraq, if not a desperate grasp for control of remaining oil, as worldwide supply has passed the halfway mark? How many people have died for it now? Fossil fuels are extremely lucrative for some, but ultimately dirty and deadly for everyone.
The exploitation of natural resources (including humans) for financial gain didn’t start with Bush and Cheney, and much as we’d like to hope so, it probably won’t end with their departure in January. We have to stand up.
We all have a right to clean air and water, and a responsibility to protect it. Our health and our children’s health demand that we get smart about the human and environmental cost of the current energy policy. Let’s get rid of a bad law. Demand the repeal of the Energy Policy Act. Demand the enforcement of the laws that were enacted to protect us, and protect our land and water for our children and grandchildren. The Clean Water Act, The Clean Air Act, and The Safe Water Drinking Act need to protect the water and air. They must apply equally to everyone.
Without these protections in place, I don’t want them drilling at the scout camp. Once they pollute our groundwater, what will we drink? Maybe people think they’ll sell out and move on. Only to the gas companies. That’s how they get ya. If you are not desperate enough to leap for the dollars initially, and stand your ground, they’ll buy out your neighbors, and pollute your well anyway. That’s what the coal industry has been doing in Appalachia for 30 years, probably more. That’s how the gas drilling companies did it in Texas, and what they’re doing in Pennsylvania. This is the prospect facing the neighbors of the Scout Camp now. Don’t sell out. Don’t believe that they won’t use toxic chemicals on your land. The law doesn’t protect you.
Renewable energy is the only way that makes any sense going forward. Demand the government subsidize it, so that we can all afford it.
Please, talk to your neighbors about this.
Cochecton Center, NY
A neighbor abutting the camp found this: http://www.tenmilerivertrader.com/blog/2008/04/05/natural-gas-extraction-at-tmr/
You can learn more about the drilling and its effects at: http://damascuscitizens.org/
Article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/business/08gas.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&sq=natural%20gas%20&st=nyt&scp=1&oref=slogin