Coming Soon To A Neighborhood Near Me: Fracking? What?

Sometimes, I purposefully do not educate myself on social or political issues so I can say, “I’m sorry I don’t know enough about that to offer an opinion.” Recent examples of this deliberate blind spot: the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the unaccompanied children trying to immigrate to America. My default position is that compassion should influence our policies, but I can’t go farther than that.

This willful ignorance (let’s call it what it is) has backfired on me.

I don’t know very much about fracking. I mean I had to look up what it was short-hand for. Hydraulic fracturing, in case you didn’t know either. I think environmentalists don’t like it very much — something, something about contaminating ground water? Negative effects on drinking water? Isn’t there a film out there somewhere about it, starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski? Probably documentaries, too. I imagine pro and con, but I DON’T KNOW.

I recently got an email from my CSA farm that the fracking company in Pennsylvania is seeking to build a facility less than a mile from their farm. From MY farm.

This seems like a Bad Idea. But I don’t have any kind of scientific information to support that Gut Feeling.

Now, what I have is the fact that this is going to directly affect my and my family’s lives. I’m not sure how yet. As well as this facility being built near a farm I depend on, they are going to start fracking near the airport, which is a few miles away from my house. I have two Post-Gazette articles — one where Don Kretschmann says this facility is going to be bad for his livelihood and for the people who receive food from him, and the other that reports on the division of the town’s residents. This KDKA story likewise reports on the New Sewickley meeting.

And I’m glad it’s being covered. But what I need to know is: Is the building of the compressor going to ruin the farm? The farm at which I usually get meat is right across the road from Kretschmann’s; I can only assume that their farm and livestock are threatened too.

How concerned to I need to be? Is my tap water going to become undrinkable?

And if no one knows the answers to these questions, well, that actually causes me more anxiety. What are we doing with a process whose long-term effects we haven’t even sussed out yet?

Here’s the first I heard of this issue, coming in the newsletter from my CSA one week. This was July 17:

“…we are totally preoccupied with stopping a Marcellus gas compressor station from being sited on a property adjoining our farm in the rear. We are shell shocked and beside ourselves after the surprise phone call last Wednesday from a neighbor about a meeting of the township board of supervisors at which they were to decide the issue. In eight hours we and several other neighbors came up with enough questions for the board to delay decision and continue the hearing on 7/23 at the township building. But we are told it will be an uphill battle. The small group of neighbors calling ourselves the Bulldogs for New Sewickley Health has alerted hundreds of residents, who also knew nothing about these plans.
     “We don’t like to bother our subscribers with issues outside our farmer to consumer relationship and deny many requests by outside groups to contact you. But this is about the future of your food supply — make no mistake. It’s about the future of our farm. … As citizens of Pennsylvania,  we all have ‘a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment.’ (Art.27Sec1PA Constitution) The state, and thus the township is the trustee of these common resources to preserve them for all of us.  Surely the production of healthy food with the benefit of clean water and air is one of the values of the environment and the most treasured of resources.”

As of right now, I don’t know the outcome of this meeting, but I am following it on Facebook.

So what I’m asking is: Does anyone know of an un-biased source for, “What You Need to Know about Fracking”? I don’t want it to be sourced from Range Resources or the Bulldogs for New Sewickley. FWIW, I am siding with my farmer and his family.

I don’t want to be a NIMBY (not in my back yard) — or if I am a NIMBY I want some factual basis for it.

And, of course, more news stories would be nice, too.

What do you think? Fracking or no fracking, or sure, frack away, just not near where I live or get my food? As for me, food is worth more to me than fracking.

Basket of Vegetables

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5 thoughts on “Coming Soon To A Neighborhood Near Me: Fracking? What?

  1. I can’t help but think of Battlestar Galactica with the term “fracking” comes up. I’m not big on oil dependency and this just seems like an other way to go at it rather than finding a real long term solution.

  2. Fracking is a HUGE issue here in Colorado as well. I find myself siding with the environmentalists, mostly because I simply just don’t TRUST the oil and gas industry. Yes, I know I am a consumer of oil and gas, and I know that domestic energy is probably better than foreign energy in some ways, but in my experience, the industry has no problem lying through their teeth about anything just to expand and make profits.

    • I guess that’s my instinct, too, Janet. The source above makes the point that the science hasn’t caught up with the industry to determine risk or safety. And they aren’t going to wait until it does because the money is too important to them.

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