New York Times and Catskill Mountainkeeper have reported that the EPA�s last
hearing on fracking, held in Canonsburg, Pa., in July drew over 1,200 people
without a hitch. Unfortunately, the follow-up, all-day hearing that had been
scheduled for last Thursday at the Oncenter Complex Convention Center in
Syracuse, NY, was cancelled last Tuesday.
This was after Onondaga Country officials expressed
�concern� that they were not given enough time to ready security in
anticipation of �rallies� and �protests� at the event.
This is in spite of the fact that successful meetings have
been held around the country on the impact of �fracking,� the nickname for the
eco-unfriendly natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing. The
Environmental Protection Agency (famous for okaying the 911 Ground Zero site
for first responder workers to work in -- the workers who are now suffering
fatal illnesses), this same EPA is now claiming it needs an �acceptable� site
for a hearing and for the �passionate� crowds that will show up for it.
Of course, many people are passionately against fracking. It
poisons water used in the process with chemicals. It poisons water supplies,
the land it is used on, the air near it, and helps to destroy landscapes. All
this so natural gas drillers can continue to profit from the desecration of the
environment, and entire communities can suffer illnesses from �drinking the
waters� fouled by fracking. One wonders whose side the EPA is on, the
profiteers, those doing the �fracking,� or the people in communities across
America suffering from its effects?
The drillers are passionate, too - passionate about making
money at untold costs to others in the community. Thus, the hearing had been
moved to Syracuse after the original venue Binghamton University, raised its
prices for the alternate site from $6,000 to $32,000, causing the university to
back off to supposedly protect its solvency.
Judith Enck, the EPA�s regional administrator in New York,
claimed that Binghamton University had been agreed on as a site last month but
all of a sudden decided to change the meeting�s location to a room, a room mind
you, with no air conditioning, in the height of August�s dog days, for
conceivably thousands of people.
Enck, with a flair for understatement said, �It is regretful
that Binghamton University has put the EPA, and more importantly, thousands of
people on both sides of the issue who had planned to attend this meeting, in
this inconvenient and difficult position . . . Universities are places where
civic participation should flourish, especially on a major environmental topic
like hydraulic fracturing�s potential impact on drinking water.� For sure!
The university officials claimed that they had raised the
price to cover security and logistical costs, that is after consulting with
local law enforcement officials, special interest groups and others that
claimed as many as 8,000 people could show up for the hearing, far more than
the peaceful 1,200 participants that the EPA had pre-registered for the event.
In the estimation of this writer, these are pure scare tactics designed to have
this meeting put off until September, and to have passage of the final bill
Our very own Governor Paterson has vanished from the issue
as usual, and has no alternatives to offer. The EPA is supposedly hunting for a
new site �and hopes,� �hopes� mind you, to hold the �hearing,� not the final
passage of a permanent bill against �fracking� in September.
As you may or may not now, hydraulic fracturing is a form of
natural gas drilling that includes injecting millions of gallons of chemically
treated water deep into the ground to release the natural gas. In doing so, the
water becomes poisoned with the various chemicals, and can contain so much
natural gas in it that it will burn if a match or cigarette lighter is put to
it. That is the kind of hazard we are talking about.
The cancellation of this new meeting disappointed many of
the people whose planned attendance had supposedly stirred some concern for the
host venues. Roger Downs, the Sierra Club�s senior staff member in New York
said that environmental and grassroots groups had planned to bus in people from
around the state to the hearing to hold a rally. Isn�t this a constitutional
right, to rally?
Downs said the rally was intended to signal concern over
drilling but also support for the EPA, which is �soliciting testimony� for a
study on the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water. The
fact is, the impact is awful, as witnessed from more than one million wells
worldwide as the drillers create fractures extending from a wellbore into
targeted rock formations.
Hydraulic fracturing was in fact �exempted by the
Bush-Cheney Energy Policy Act of 2005 from the United States� basic
environmental regulations, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clear Air
Act,� as reported in the HBO documentary Gasland,
by filmmaker Josh Fox, who also estimates that some 450,000 wells in the
U.S., using some 40 trillion gallons of chemically infused water, have been contaminated
by the drilling, with much of this water left seeping or injected into the
This has been accomplished by thousands of rigs in some 34
states, drilling into huge shale fields, tight sands or coal bed seams
containing gas deposits trapped in the rock. Each well calls for the use of
fracking flue -- chemical cocktails consisting of 596 chemicals, including
carcinogens and neurotoxins, as well as one to 7 million gallons of water,
which are now infused with the chemicals.
This could lead to the poisoning of the Delaware River near
the area containing the payload of natural gas in the tri-state area, called
the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. An offer of $100,000 was made to Josh Fox for
his swath of land, which he turned down to go across the country and more
closely examine this ecological hazard. Every American should be aware of this
potential ecological disaster, and the political machinations now being
attempted to forestall discussion and passage of a no-fracking bill.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long
resident of New York City. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book, �State Of
Shock: Poems from 9/11 on� is available at
www.jerrymazza.com, Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on American
and world politics as an Associate Editor of Online Journal.