Readers Write: Fracking threatens public safety; Industry can't be trusted

Letters to the Editor for the November 25, 2013 weekly magazine: 

Fractured shale provides minimal filtration, so contaminants can travel more easily and quickly. Putting chemicals in water and shooting it into the ground isn't a good idea.

Some make the case that government is doing a good job regulating the oil and gas industry on fracking. If companies really were trustworthy, they would have been self-regulating.

Fracking and public safety

Thank you for the two viewpoints on fracking – one from Richard Heinberg, the other from Don Smith and Rebecca Watson – in the Oct. 28 commentary section ("Will 'fracking' for fuel secure America's energy future?"). I would like to share firsthand experience that attests to the unpredictability of water flow through shale, as this is a key concern in the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) discussion.

I live in a part of upstate New York that is in the Marcellus Shale. A few years ago, with the approval of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a nearby farmer removed trees and shrubs that had formed a barrier between his fields and adjoining homeowners' properties. After the farmer applied a legal amount of cow manure to those fields, two children were hospitalized and several wells in the area tested positive for E. coli and high nitrogen levels.

As a homeowner in the affected area, I learned how the geology of our area is particularly susceptible to ground-water contamination. Fractured shale provides only minimal filtration, and contaminants can therefore travel more easily and quickly. Putting chemicals in water and shooting those chemicals into the ground doesn't sound like a good or reasonable idea.

Sheila Muters

Marietta, N.Y.

A statement in the "Yes" view on fracking in the Oct. 28 commentary section was intended to offer assurance about government regulation and safety: "Last year the Environmental Protection Agency required that by 2015, drillers capture 'fugitive' emissions at oil and gas wellheads rather than release them into the air."

Mr. Smith and Ms. Watson are making the case that governments are doing a good job at regulating the oil and gas industry when it comes to fracking. Was the industry not capturing these emissions before the regulation? If these companies really were trustworthy, they would have been self-regulating. This raises the question, What else are they doing that government will later discover it needs to regulate?

Bill Miley

Ojai, Calif.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Readers Write: Fracking threatens public safety; Industry can't be trusted
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Readers-Respond/2013/1125/Readers-Write-Fracking-threatens-public-safety-Industry-can-t-be-trusted
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe