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How do the candidates stand on America’s energy future? Here’s a radio piece from NCR

Energy policy, defining how we use energy to power our economy and our lives, is among the most pressing issues for the next four years. In this special edition of BURN, stories about the power of one: how, in this election season, a single person, place, policy or idea can — with a boost from science — affect the nation’s search for greater energy independence.

The State of Fracking May Be Changing…

In an update to our covering the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) production of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, there are things happening and statements being made worldwide against the practice… even from the industry itself (however, these are for capital reasons and not for the environmental dangers that most of us are concerned with.)

If you want to review how fracking works, the National Geographic has a very good animated illustration HERE (although it does not adequately address the polluting of the water table – indeed, it more or less shows the industry point of view.)

France, as a nation, has now completely banned Fracking because of the pollution of water supplies by chemicals used in the process such as Benzine (a carcinogen), Toluene (a central nervous system depressant) and Xylene (a neurotoxin.) French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said before the French National Assembly vote:

“We are at the end of a legislative marathon that stirred emotion from lawmakers and the public. Hydraulic fracturing will be illegal and parliament would have to vote for a new law to allow research using the technique.”

Official photo of Governor Beverly Perdue (D-NC).

Beverly Perdue, Governor of North Carolina

In this country, the New Jersey State Senate voted to ban the practice, which contaminates drinking waterand  North Carolina’s Governor Bev Perdue vetoed a state senate bill that would have allowed fracking in the state. Here in West Virginia, which is on part of the Marcellus Shale, the energy industry has so far retained its hold.  The New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is poised to lift the ban on fracking, however he state issued new guidelines for fracking that will prohibit the practice in state parks and in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.

New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, an opponent of fracking, in a statement on Cuomo’s position, said:

“If hydrofracking is not safe in the New York City watershed it’s not safe in any watershed. There’s a tacit admission on the part of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that it is not safe and yet it is being allowed.”
Despite claims to the contrary, hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). This act was enacted in 1974 to ensure water supply systems serving the public meet appropriate health standards. However, Congress included language in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 making it clear once and for all that underground injection fluids or propping agents were excluded from the SDWA (evidence, of course, of heavy industry lobbying.)
The industry has recently come out to complain that the cost of fracking is currently slightly more than the income that can be received from the practice and is reisting any regulation on it. Because of the cost problems, many natural gas companies have moved into oil drilling due to it’s subsidized profitability. This will not likely be a lasting situation if the Federal government refuses to regulate it. The Feds are waiting for an EPA report which will come out in 2012 (unless the Republicans can eliminate the EPA, which the conservative right is trying to do, supposedly as a deficit cut.)
We’ll keep you updated on more in the future.

Sandra Steingraber speaks on Fracking…

Those of you who are regulars on this blog, or who have heard me question some of the candidates for Governor in West Virginia, know of my concerns with Hydro Fracturing or “Fracking” to remove natural gas from shale. So far I have had no satisfactory responses from candidates, Democrat or Republican, to my concerns. They ALL think this can be made safe (it can’t) and they will make sure it is. Between you and me, they are all getting campaign funds from the Natural Gas industry.

If you have seen the movie “Gasland,” you know some of the problems that are related to this practice of pumping toxic chemicals mixed with water into underground shale… chemicals that get into the water supply and pollute rivers and streams. You all know the extremes… faucets with flaming water, cows in fields dying from poisoned grazing land, rivers being polluted and the toxins heading downstream and eventually into great water areas like the Chesapeake bay.

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., ecologist, poet, mother, and activist gave an incredible speech during a rally in Albany NY, May 2, 2011, to ban fracking in NY state. Sandra’s story about her cancer and finding out that her cancer is linked to the drinking water or her hometown became a movie called Living Downstream (www.livingdownstream.com), based on a book she wrote about her discoveries.

Here’s the speech.

If you speak with candidates before you vote and you live in any of the states that contain the Marcellus Shale (NY, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, etc.), make sure you bring up the issue… and see if YOU get a satisfactory answer.

Nearby Neigbors in PA: A Colossal Fracking Mess

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marce...

Drill Apparatus in PA for Marcellus Shale

This is a long and detailed article from Vanity Fair by Christopher Bateman (with Photographs), and it should be read by everyone in the Marcellus Shale area (like West Virginians). 

This a very partial fragment… go into Vanity Fair on the link below and read it all.

clipped from www.vanityfair.com
Sixty miles west of Damascus, the town of Dimock, population 1,400, makes all too clear the dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing.
Although there is a moratorium on drilling new wells for the time being, you can still see the occasional active drill site, manned by figures in hazmat suits and surrounded by klieg lights, trailers, and pits of toxic wastewater, the derricks towering over barns, horses, and cows in their shadows.
Dimock is now known as the place where, over the past two years, people’s water started turning brown and making them sick, one woman’s water well spontaneously combusted, and horses and pets mysteriously began to lose their hair.
“It was so bad sometimes that my daughter would be in the shower in the morning, and she’d have to get out of the shower and lay on the floor” because of the dizzying effect the chemicals in the water had on her, recalls Craig Sautner, who has worked as a cable splicer for Frontier Communications his whole life.
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