Fracking crazy

In Pennsylvania, cash-strapped Westmoreland County is leasing out their watershed – to a fracking operation:

Fracking began at Beaver Run in 2008 — one year, incidentally, after the municipal authority upheld a fishing ban in the reservoir due to public health concerns.

CNX says it has plans for up to 30 shale gas wells at the reservoir from five different drilling sites. Both CNX and the water authority have groundwater monitoring wells around the reservoir. As an extra precaution, CNX is drilling five well casings instead of the state-mandated two.

So far, the company has a good record at the site, without any violations from state regulators.

Still, many residents like Walter wonder how drilling was permitted in a reservoir watershed where virtually all other activities are banned. Others are angry they weren’t informed about the gas development and feel excluded from a public decision.

When Joe Evans, a medical engineer and member of Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Murrysville, saw aerial maps of the reservoir in 2009, he was stunned.

“I was shocked that a process that I was finding to be dangerous was allowed to take place on a reservoir property, where even hiking and fishing from the banks is prohibited for fear of pollution,” he said.

Brien Palmer, a business technology consultant and fellow member of the citizens group, said he’s not opposed to gas drilling but questions the judgment of the water utility. “The fact that they would drill near a drinking water source first, and not as a last resort, is astonishing,” he said. “I’m just not sure what I can say to someone who can’t see the absurdity of fracking in a drinking well basin.”

Daniel Jonczak, an electrical engineer who lives two miles from the Beaver Run Reservoir, says that he, too, is a far cry from an anti-drilling activist. He grew up in the 1970s, when Westmoreland County’s streams flowed orange from acid mine drainage. So extreme was the damage, Jonczak laments, that local creeks were given names like coal tar run. Gas was always seen as less polluting.

Yet the decision to lease Beaver Run Reservoir has him extremely worried.

“Are we really sure what’s going on with MAWC [Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County] and the water supplied to half of Westmoreland County?” asked Jonczak. “The chance of a spill is just too huge. I don’t think they were aware of the risks.”

4 thoughts on “Fracking crazy

  1. Cash strapped states, counties, and local governments, along with individuals, are seeing this as a 21st C. gold rush. Very little attention to environmental factors and “collateral damage” when people see all those dollar signs….

    And Obama’s actions are forcing the states to go for whatever dollars are on offer.

    Michael Hudson said in an interview on Guns and Butter that Obama is engineering this debt crisis to achieve his goals of 1) lowering wages by 30% in the US, which he feels will make the US competitive with the rest of the world, and 2) creating little Greeces and Irelands in as many states as possible, forcing them to sell of state and other goverment owned assets…at pennies on the dollar to best benefit his wealthy donors.

    Hudson clearly describes Obama’s actions and objectives as…well, those of a ruthless politician.

    This is how he is doing what politicians are supposed to do: delivering his constituency (liberals, racial minorities, urban dwellers and the poor – in fact, the American mainstream) to his campaign contributors.

    Transcription and MP3.

  2. is it wrong to wish that something would happen to destroy a relatively small watershed like this one so that we can keep ours?

  3. “Selling unused government property” is one of the provisions of the Gang of Six budget deal, so this is just in line with the national trend, and part of the future mapped out for us that the President finds so promising.

    This is just part of the “austerity” process that the global bankers are using to crush the ability of governments to function as protectors of the public welfare.

  4. BTW CNX is part of Consol Energy, a monstrous coal company we are well familiar with here in West Virginia.They like to mine first, and fix it later if they are caught.

    Consol sets plan for W.Va. water treatment plant

    Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
    Pittsburgh Tribune Review
    July 13, 2011

    Consol Energy Inc., a Cecil-based coal and natural gas producer, said Tuesday that Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies will design, build and operate a $200 million mine water treatment system near Mannington, W.Va.

    Construction of the zero liquid waste discharge system is to begin this month and be finished by May 2013. Consol said Veolia will treat mine drainage from Consol’s Blacksville No. 2, Loveridge and Robinson Run mining operations. Consol agreed to build the plant and pay a $5.5 million fine for federal Clean Water Act violations at six mines in West Virginia.

    The agreement was made after algae killed aquatic life in 2009 along Dunkard Creek in Greene County. Consol temporarily stopped discharging into the creek, and said it determined later its operations didn’t cause the algae bloom.
    Copyright 2011 Tribune Review Publishing CompanyAll Rights Reserved
    Pittsburgh Tribune Review

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