Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Frack U

Gasland, a film by Josh Fox, is must-see-TV for folks in Rockingham County, Virginia. A drilling company is pushing to drill for natural gas in the Bergton area using a controversial technique that could adversely impact ground water resources. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves the high pressure injection of millions of gallons of water along with sand and chemicals into a deep well to fracture the shale and to allow the gas to flow more freely.

Fracking is permitted because the Bush Administration successfully got natural gas drilling exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Drilling companies are not required to disclose the proprietary chemicals that are injected into the gas wells, many of which are over 8,000 feet deep. This so-called "Haliburton Loophole" essentially means the EPA cannot regulate these wells. Fracking in an area of karst limestone and aquifers, such as found in much of the Shenandoah Valley, is especially risky since since a poorly cased gas well could contaminate many wells, even those located miles from the drilling site.

Gasland has won numerous awards and will be airing on HBO through 2012. Let's hope members of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors and especially their chairman, Pablo Cuevas, who represents the Bergton area, take time to watch Gasland and thoroughly investigate fracking before making a decision. Recent events scream for caution - if drilling/fracking is permitted in the Bergton area, the company should proffer a emergency fund to be held in escrow to compensate anyone adversely impacted.

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