An informal poll was posted on Topix and I would like to offer an extended response here. I am writing here as a concerned resident of Monroe County, West Virginia.
#1. Are you for or against? Vehemently against.
#2. How much independent research have you done? I have been involved with studying, discussing, researching, meeting, thinking, watching, listening and independently exploring the topic in some level of detail for the last 6 months.
#3. Your major reason, for or against? Simple. Before: clean water. After natural gas and hydraulic fracturing operations? Contaminated water. No matter how it is presented by the opposition - this is the documented reality. It doesn't matter whether the contamination ultimately stems from the fracking process or an overturned truck, or a leak in a containment pond, or a well exploding, or the well casing cracking, or the wastewater being disposed of improperly, or from misting, or a leak anywhere along the path that begins with drilling into the ground and ends when that product is transmitted out of Monroe County via major transmission lines. The opportunities for an error are immense, and the likelihood of one occurring extremely high. There are known documented risks with hydraulic fracture (and with standard vertical well drilling) - these risks are considered acceptable collateral damage by the corporations and ultimately, by our government.
Monroe County will become a resource colony much like much of our great nation and state has already become. Is there no end to this devouring? Is there a chance we can save our little corner of the planet from this destructive development? There is very little land like it left.
As a matter of fact - our land is incredibly special: for caves, sinkholes, vertical seams, and vast, interconnected underground water systems - our land is known worldwide. This is ground zero for karst. Our cave systems are vast, stretching for miles! The Greenbrier River watershed is considered a notable karst area (Wikipedia).
Water here travels miles in ways that may not be apparent, and this has been shown with dye tests. Liquids from a surface spill could enter a sinkhole and reach a cave or underground waterway and could travel miles underground before emerging in a natural spring, or stream, or drinking water well. Any slip up of any sort with any serious contaminants (of which the process uses MANY) could poison everyone downline.
Folks, this is serious business and I hope those of you with strong but uneducated opinions supporting natural gas development using current techniques will do your own research on the topic and come back and post after you've let it settle in. Try googling "hydraulic fracture disaster" or "natural gas contamination" etc.
This is not about one little well. If the drillers come in here unchecked, we will be part of a massive network of natural gas development - a proposed some 30 thousands wells in Marcellus Shale in the next 20 years. The risks associated with one well must be considered multiplied by this massive volume - and I think we can all do the math. There is little chance we will escape unscathed.
And guys - there are no stringent regulations restricting the operations of oil & gas companies - due to special exemptions from the Clean Water Act and other restrictions that apply to all other industries, the government, in an effort to solve our energy crisis has essentially legalized harm. Get the gas at all costs! Everyone from Obama, to the EPA, Congress, the DEP, down to our local County Commissioners and Planning Commission have acknowledged that special ordinances are required to protect our people.
NOT ONE ORDINANCE HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY OUR PLANNING COMMISSION.
The DEP is conducting a comprehensive program review to revise their regulations - it could takes months or longer for it to be complete and the revised policies activated. The EPA is conducting thorough studies on hydraulic fracturing as more and more evidence that it is connected with water and air contamination emerges - results might be ready in 2012.
Any permits given to drill right now would mean the company has 24 months to operate under current law, which has been admitted to be inadequate by the government and its agencies. That would make us one of the last guinea pigs that later in history might be considered the "charter members" of the got-fracked club. Wetzel County and others should be demonstrative enough to convince any thinking man, woman or child that this will change life here irreparably and forever.
And you think its going to bring economic gain to the area? Ha. The workers will be primarily from out of state. Only a few residents will actually benefit from royalty checks. The businesses that are likely to experience increased sales while the operations are active, or even the new businesses that might emerge? The situation will be shortlived. Once they have sucked the County dry of its gas and quite possibly a good bit of its water - they will leave. And when they do, so will their investment into our economy - and the businesses will slowly die and sales for the businesses that make it will return to their previous levels. I'm sure most of you knows of a town that once bustled with commerce and now is a ghost town with dilapidated storefronts and empty buildings.
Only difference is property values will have plummeted, and of course don't forget the existing leases will expire and those checks will stop coming. The few who have profited from the endeavor are likely to be living in their second homes, and we will be left to pick up the pieces, likely dealing with the after-effects of the disturbances to animal and human life for years to come. This may all sound very post-apocalyptic. It isn't - it is very real and could happen in our lifetimes.
If we do not act now to stop this from coming to MoCo, we'll be just another glorious community ravaged by industry and transformed into a resource colony. It will be with great displeasure a few years down the road to say, "I told you so."
Wake up. It's our only chance.
Find out more at SavetheWaterTable.org.