Thursday, May 5, 2011

Those Pesky Budget Cuts: Environmental Protection Funding

Yeah, I know. Not everyone cares about the environment. My dad's one of those people, saying things like, "I don't give a damn about the trees" or "I don't care about those damn tree-huggers." I disagree and think the environment is something worth worrying about and protecting (oh, I'm sorry, is my liberalism showing?) but beyond that, there's a lot more to the issue than "saving the trees."

Corbett wants to decrease environmental protection funding from $147 million to $140 million, despite the growth of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and the chemicals used in the drilling process. That growth includes an increase of drilling in Fayette County. To add to that, he doesn't want to tax drilling, "saying the state should try to make itself the center of the drilling boom for Marcellus and the underlying Utica Shale." But at what potential cost?

On a personal level, driving down New Salem Road and seeing huge wells breaking up the pretty landscape is sad (oh, I'm sorry, is my inner hippie showing?).

That's attractive.

I'll admit that the creation of jobs is awesome, especially in industry. But again, at what potential cost? And I don't mean a less attractive landscape or sentimentality.

Drilling companies use a process called hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Fracking puts a lot of toxic chemicals in the ground, which have contaminated ground and drinking water. The waste water that is full of chemicals from fracking fluid isn't always properly disposed of, either, and is often dumped into fields and streams.

How is this legal, you ask? Well, companies are exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Because of the chemicals and gas in the water, people are able to set their tap water on fire. In some cases, people have been able to set streams on fire.

This isn't counting the pollution being pumped into the air, or the explosions that have happened.

Because of all this, animals are dying. In minor cases, they only get sick or mysteriously lose all their fur.

If you're like my dad and don't care about animals, maybe you'll care about people.

Some have gotten really, really sick. As in irreversible brain damage and loss of the sense of taste and smell.

The companies claim the suddenly contaminated drinking water isn't related to the drilling. That makes a lot of sense. Hmm, this water was awesome before they drilled! Crisp, fresh, and lacking bubbles and a weird film! Now a drilling company is in town and my water's yellow, I can light it on fire, and I can't taste anymore. What a wacky coincidence!

If you're like my dad, you agree with Corbett and other politicians. You think that "the industry will police itself." Obviously, that isn't working, and human life can't be disregarded in favor of money and jobs. Something needs done before Fayette County has bad drinking water, dead animals, and sick residents. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've looked at an issue and said, "This could make our problems worse."

I highly recommend the documentary Gasland--created by a guy who was offered a lot of money to allow drilling on his property and declined--which is where the clips I've included came from. I especially recommend it if you've been offered money by a drilling company, drilling is going on near you, you're a fan of nature, or just don't want to lose your senses because your water starts sucking.

1 comment:


    I thought you might find this interesting.