Our Hot Mess: Can we let this happen? No fracking way.

There is something happening across the entire country causing toxic air pollution, increased risks of cancer and birth defects, and an unprecedented number of earthquakes. Earthquakes happening in places like Ohio that had no record of regular quakes until this something started happening. And this something is coming to Lancaster County.
Hydraulic fracturing of shale to extract natural gas - fracking - is a dangerous and rather unnecessary way to get energy. Wells are drilled to the desired depth, turned 90 degrees, and continued until they reach the location believed to house the natural gas. Initial fracking requires anywhere from 6,000 to 600,000 gallons of water, but additional water for future use for one well can get up to 8 million gallons. So all of this fluid is pumped down under high pressure to break up the shale formations, releasing most of the natural gas stored so that -- in Lancaster’s case -- the major energy company Williams may build and operate a pipeline, a pipeline that will allow gas producers to ship overseas.
But like many too-good-to-be-true systems, this seemingly innocuous process comes back to hurt us. Water makes up about 99.2% of fracking fluid, and hazardous chemicals like barium, chromium, and mercury are what we have to deal with in the wastewater. Only 30-50% of the fracking fluid - the wastewater - is even recovered for disposal by the the companies pumping it down. That means the amount that is recovered from the fracking process is either deep-injected into long term stores under ground or accidently released during the process into nearby groundwater. Methane concentrations are 17x higher in wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells. That means our drinking water is potentially becoming contaminated.

People are being hospitalized for these no good effects of fracking. Increased hospitalizations for skin conditions, cancer, and urological problems. Why are we letting this happen?

And now all of these lovely earthquake and toxic water additions get to come to Lancaster County. The Atlantic Sunrise Project would add 183 miles of pipeline. We would be in the impact area of one specific Central Penn Line South, a considerable 42” high pressure distribution line.
The proposed route of the pipeline
Image courtesy of LNP
And that place we all love to visit, Tucquan Glen? It would have been in the hazard zone of the pipeline had the older route been chosen. Hazard zones are areas around the pipeline that, should the pipeline explode as they sometimes do, would be incinerated. No more carefree field trips or grand hikes on scenic trails or PB & J filled picnics to the place I imagine we all hold pretty close. Or imagine if your livelihood was stripped out from under you, ask it was for Maggie Henry and her New York Times acclaimed organic farm, The Farmer’s Wife. She could no longer guarantee the organicness of her products, causing the farm to go bankrupt and her family to take out a new mortgage. Or perhaps try to imagine not being allowed to garden or build on your own property, the property you bought, you tend to, and you live on, for fear of exploding the pipes of 1480 psi. Property value plummeting.

This is causing chaos and devastation.
Image courtesy of LancasterPipeline.org

Long story short, we need to make sure that FERC, the commission saying yay or nay to the proposed pipelines, denies Williams the path to make it all happen. FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is currently analyzing the proposed pipeline paths and is set to make a decision by April 2016. So we need to get involved in this discussion. Go to Lancaster Against Pipelines meetings. Talk to family members, friends, coworkers. Chances are you will hear personal stories of how landowners have been affected already.
Please spread awareness of these injustices and join Lancaster Against Pipelines.
Presentation: Lancaster’s Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline in the Global Marketplace
- Wednesday, November 04, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Where: Student Memorial Center, Room 24, Millersville University in Millersville, PA
- Thursday, November 05, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Where: Lisa Bonchek Adams Auditorium, Kaufman Hall, F&M College in Lancaster, PA

Additional Resources:
Hydraulic Fracturing: The Process

--Elke Arnesen, LSNews.org Columnist

Edited: BP

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