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THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011   
Vol 4.19   
Gutter Gutter
Photo corutesy of JJ Murphy
Nature's Bounty
Why Fracking Is a Bad Idea

"Josh Fox [director of Gasland] is our Martin Luther King," I overheard one attendee say, as the rally ended and people got ready to speak with their elected officials.

I joined several hundred of my fellow New Yorkers who traveled to Albany on Monday April 11, 2011 to rally and then meet with our elected officials to encourage them not to allow the devastating practice of hydraulic fracturing, "fracking," anywhere in New York State.

According to Food and Water Watch, this natural gas drilling procedure "involves the injection of more than one million gallons of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure down and across into horizontally drilled wells as far as 10,000 feet below the surface."

The idea is to crack the rock layer, in our case the Marcellus Shale, so the sand can hold the fissures open, allowing the natural gas from the shale to flow up the well. If this is not scary enough, apparently there is a vertical fracking procedure as well as the above-referenced horizontal fracking.

So what's the problem?

The accompanying photo shows bottles are filled with tap water from a home near a fracking operation. Yes, you can light this home's tap water on fire. These images alone should persuade politicians that any risk of poisoning our water puts all of us in harm's way. Fracking potentially contaminates not only the wells of homeowners, but the lakes and streams that bring in millions of tourist dollars during New York's fishing season.

It's clear to me that the alleged benefits offracking are not worth contaminating our drinking water. But for some reason, many people believe that by allowing their land to be torn up, that people out of work will have jobs and that their local municipalities will prosper.

Hydraulic fracturing is happening in a number of US States including Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, Louisiana, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and closest to New York — Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately the track record of most of these endeavors is horrifying. From contracts with odd loopholes absolving the corporation from any responsibility for clean up from accidents, to clauses preventing people who sign these documents from suing if they are harmed, it is clear that this Haliburton-created endeavor is designed to enrich that corporation — even if it destroys the very water that sustains life.

So, tell me again why are we even contemplating fracking? If fracking in these other states has already left behind torn up earth, polluted air and water, and an environment that causes illnesses to humans (not to mention other living beings), why would New York State even consider doing this?

I cannot see very much of a return on that investment. It looks like an accident waiting to happen in my opinion.

Writer and naturalist JJ Murphy offers creative nature curriculum, wild food recipes, fiction, poetry, articles and writing services for individuals, entrepreneurs, small businesses and ecologically aware companies. Check out JJ's portfolio at, Giving Nature a Voice.

Gutter Gutter