Are we fracking crazy?
There's no reason to rush into natural gas.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 12:35
"Slow down; you move too fast."
That line from Simon and Garfunkel's "Feelin' Groovy" came to mind when I learned that the great state of Pennsylvania approved 3,300 drilling permits for natural gas in 2010 and possibly another 3,500 more in 2011. Yikes! After watching the "Gasland" documentary, it's a no-brainer to take it easy on allowing more fracking (horizontal hydraulic fracturing) for natural gas wells in my state of Virginia.
Yes, the Marcellus Shale formation stores googads of natural gas from its northern reaches in New York State down through West Virginia. It's huge, too — under 60 percent of Pennsylvania's total land mass, where it is buried up to 9,000 feet deep.
But many elected folks in Virginia are chomping at the bit to allow fracking here — in the far western (very rural!) parts of the state.
So yesterday, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation led a coalition of environmental groups to petition the White House Council on Environmental Quality for a comprehensive federal analysis of the cumulative impacts of natural gas drilling in the Mid-Atlantic region on streams, the Bay, drinking water, air pollution and human health. That word "comprehensive" implies a LOT of research and more than just a simple EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). And the word "cumulative" is not one that the gas industry especially likes. But moving too fast just to make a quick buck (actually lots of bucks) from natural gas can leave a lot of tainted water in its path.
The National Parks Conservation Association is one of the petitioning organizations because of its concern that public lands will also be damaged by drilling.
For a look at this issue from the industry, click here to see how the Marcellus Shale Coalition presents its case. You might want a salt shaker around for that proverbial "grain of salt."