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Don't leave 'door' open

I am responding to some comments made at U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire’s Marcellus Shale panel discussion held June 28 at the Community College of Allegheny County’s North Campus.

First of all, I’m sick and tired of people like state Department of Environmental Protection representative Alan Eichler making the statement “we’ve been using hydraulic fracturing for 50 years.”

To suggest that current fracking technology is identical to what it was when it was first implemented 50 years ago is absurd. One key difference is that the current process was in 2005 granted exemption from federal clean air and clean water regulations, at the gas industry’s request. Why would the industry make such a request for such a “safe and benign” process?

Eichler continued his defense of hydraulic fracturing by claiming that there have been no documented cases of fracking having caused well water contamination. That speaks more to a flaw in the documentation process than to the safety of the fracking process. The widespread presence of water buffaloes, all paid for by the gas industry, in the front yards of residences in Washington, Bradford and Susquehanna counties, are perhaps a greater testimony to the “safety” of Marcellus Shale drilling and fracking in our state than is this oft-quoted “lack of documented cases.”

Which brings me to the comment made by Bruce Kennedy at Altmire’s event — that environmentalists’ concerns are a “farce.” I see nothing farcical about people getting sick and livestock being poisoned from drinking contaminated water.

These things have happened in the aforementioned counties and elsewhere in association with Marcellus Shale drilling and fracking. Anyone who thinks these things couldn’t happen in Butler County is either profoundly blind or patently idiotic.

It’s true that many wells in Pennsylvania have been drilled without a hitch. It is equally true that drilling has caused severe problems in many areas of the state.

If the gas industry, the DEP and people like Kennedy would just admit to both sides of this simple truth, we perhaps could move forward to a slower, safer and more sensible approach to drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.

Failure to admit that these problems exist and need to be addressed leaves the door wide open for these problems to continue to occur.

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