Pro-Fracking Writers Have It Wrong

To The Reader’s Forum:

This is in response to two recent letters in support of fracking from Donald Beaujean and Rolland Kidder. In each letter, numerous factual errors were made. These aren’t incorrect because it’s my opinion, but because they counter the scientific studies, government agency reports, and investigative journalism published on the topic. I’ll cover a few of the many errors.

Donald states that burning natural gas leaves nothing but water in the atmosphere. The CNG cars he speaks of also emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Plus, he neglects to mention that in order to get that natural gas, vast amounts of methane and carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. Natural gas is no improvement over other fossil fuels when it comes to climate change.

He then goes on to say that he’s only heard of evidence against fracking as “rumors of poisons, polluted water, earthquakes and so on.” They aren’t rumors at all. All of those issues and dozens more have been documented and verified by state and federal agencies, a multitude of university studies and even industry reports. He dismisses first-hand accounts from people who have been negatively affected in Pennsylvania where fracking is allowed, even though those impacts are well-documented in the scientific literature and elsewhere. In addition to making a misquote, he then gives the industry “safe, clean” talking point, which fully ignores the many aspects of natural gas production and use that are anything but safe and clean.

While I respect Rolland greatly for his service to our region, our state and our nation, he makes the mistake of conflating conventional drilling, which has been used in Chautauqua County for a hundred years, with the much newer high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF or fracking) which is the kind there is so much protest over. Almost daily we read reports of new water contaminations wherever HVHF is allowed, of studies showing a wide array of toxins exposure near drilling activities, and of the many other negative aspects. But, though Roland and Donald have dismissed all the environmental and health impacts of HVHF, we shouldn’t and it still makes a great deal of sense for New York (and local municipalities) to have bans and moratoria on this new kind of fracking. The people are getting wise to industries that say “Trust us, it’s safe,” especially when there is so much evidence to the contrary.

Glenn Wahl

Little Valley

Cattaraugus-Chautauqua for Clean Water