The Costs of Fracking
By Rege Behe
About eleven years ago, Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki met with a group of Pittsburghers concerned about plans to introduce fracking within the city’s limits. Since then, he’s become increasingly concerned about the procedure’s effects.
“I hear from fans whose drinking water has been devastated in their towns and others who have started experiencing earthquakes in their community from fracking,” Glabicki says. “People are scared. I am scared.”
Glabicki and Rusted Root will headlined “Freedom From Fracking: A Benefit for the Friends of the Harmed” May 16, 2015 at Mr. Small’s in Millvale. Mike Stout & the Human Union, Kellee Maize & Friends, Liz Berlin, UJAMAA, Anne Feeney, Smokestack Lightning, DJ Paul Dang, Gene Stovall, Jasiri X, Palermo Stone, Vanessa German, the Benevolent Sneaky Mike and Tom Breiding also are scheduled to perform.
Proceeds will benefit The Friends of the Harmed, which assists families who have been harmed from fracking related activities in the region, via The Thomas Merton Center.
The US Energy Information Administration estimates that there are 2.119 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 25.2 billion barrels of crude oil available in the US via fracking. Fracking is responsible for 90 percent of oil and gas production in the United States, according to National Parks Conservation Organization.
But at what cost?
Food & Water Watch, a public interest organization based in Washington, DC, states that communities in proximity to fracking activities are subject to increased crime, decreased property values, and losses in tourism and agriculture.
Fracking also is exempt from major environmental laws including the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the process uses approximately five million gallons per well. The waste water from fracking can pollute streams, lakes and rivers, and the water supply
“The New York Times just came out with an article citing a new study showing that high levels of Butoxyethanol are showing up in Pennsylvania’s drinking water from fracking,” Glabicki says. “This stuff is irreversible. I went up to Dimock, (in Susquehanna County) and sat in the living rooms of several families listening to their horror stories. Many had no drinking water and had to ship it in. Many of the children were sick for months before figuring out it was from fracking. I can go on and on. There are so many wells around Pittsburgh and it is just a matter of time before a major disaster happens here.”
Glabicki met a former worker in the fracking industry who said he’d dumped truckloads of contaminated water on the side of the road near Dimock. The worker was fearful he’d lose his job if he didn’t dump the water.
But contaminated drinking water may be just one consequence of fracking.
“There are so many other issues that we don’t know the full extent of yet,” Glabicki says. “We just added earthquakes to the list! They are happening in Michigan and West Virginia as well as other areas. Who know what this might turn into? There is much we don’t know about the dangers of fracking. Oil companies are going full steam with it, trying to make as much money as they can, before we can figure it out.”