Bert Bowe of Pittsboro sent this letter to all North Carolina State Senators. He has given us permission to publish his letter here for all to see.
I am writing to all North Carolina Senators since a decision you make - wherever your home district – will severely impact my Chatham and nearby counties’ environment and quality of life.
I am in strong opposition to Senator Rucho’s bill regarding fracking (S820) - or any bill similar to it (I have read all 22 pages). This bill, among other things, allows for fracking in 2014 whether adequate safeguards are in place or not, overrides local control of fracking, gives true oversight authority to an Oil and Gas Board comprised mainly of people who could well be fracking advocates (why create another Board versus using DENR?), and provides no consumer or landowner protections – such as for neighbors next to land being fracked.
In addition, where is the fracking water going to come from (we can only water two days a week in the middle of the night now!), and what becomes of it once polluted with toxic and carcinogenic chemicals?!
I have attended two of the three DENR public input sessions and done a fair amount of study of this relatively new horizontal fracturing process. I’m also in the risk management business (insurance and investments) and think the bottom line about fracking risks is this:
If you vote for this bill (or similar one), the result will speeding up the beginning of fracking operations in our state, creating some local temporary jobs while also generating wealth for certain landowners and gas company owners. So IF all the numerous environmental, infrastructure, landowner rights, etc. issues have somehow been clearly resolved in two years, these are the advantages.
On the other hand, if the huge number of citizens and objective experts are right in warning that we should wait until we are really sure about safeguards, and there is in fact lasting damage to ground, surface and drinking water, air quality, our roads, North Carolina scenic beauty, overall quality of life, police and fire operations, etc. then that will be your (and unfortunately our) legacy. This is not speculation – these negatives effects have occurred in other states and in fact some have put a freeze on fracking.
At the Fearrington Village DENR meeting, the oil and gas representative there was quoted on WRAL as saying North Carolina was a “clean slate,” so the gas industry can apply what it learned from its mistakes in other states. This sounds to me like two words: “guinea pig.” Let the industry prove itself first in those states where all the environmental contamination and other negative effects have already occurred, then come back!
I’d like to make two specific points about fracking environmental damage:
- First - as you know, many of the hundreds of potential fracking fluid chemicals are toxic or carcinogenic. For perspective: using the seemingly low estimate of 0.5% chemical composition of fracking fluid and a minimum of 3 million gallons of water used in a frack, over 60 tons of chemicals are injected permanently underground or have to be disposed of somehow when brought back up. With the high estimate - 2.0% composition and 5 million gallons of water - 400 tons of chemicals will be used for that one well. So we’re talking about between 60 and 400 tons of chemicals per well! I suggest you refer to The Endocrine Disruption Exchange to see their comprehensive and scary research on fracking compounds.
- Second, since the gas industry is so confident that this relatively new method of hydraulic fracturing is safe for the environment, I think you should ask their executives to do three common sense things before even considering fracking here:
a. Voluntarily come under the Federal Clean Air, Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts, from which Dick Cheney exempted the industry in 2005. If not, why not?
b. Add a unique tracer chemical into each well’s fracking fluid so that any subsequent ground water, surface water, or air contamination could be shown to not come from that well – or maybe the opposite. If not, why not?
c. Lastly, provide a copy of the company’s non-disclosure agreement landowners sign when leasing mineral rights, which may prevent them from discussing negative fracking effects. And yes - if not, why not?
By the way, you do not have to take an unannounced gas-industry sponsored trip to Pennsylvania like our Governor to see a gas well-drilling executive. We had one right here in Chatham at the October 17th, 2011 County Commissioners meeting who gave a presentation and “answered” questions – Lewis Fromkin of Fromkin Energy. Since we do not have the vast amounts of shale gas as in some other states, relatively smaller companies like his would likely be the ones fracking in North Carolina.
To listen to Fromkin, one would think they inject nothing but millions of gallons of clear water and baby oil into the ground, with only a rare case of a “quart” of fracking fluid spilled - which is cleaned up immediately. He actually asserted that scientists who provided research critical of fracking were just doing it for the money. One of his favorite techniques was answering a question with a question.
You had to be there. Actually, no you didn’t have to be there since it is all on tape. I recommend you view his condescending, evasive and misleading performance – just Google “CHATHAM BOC VIDEOS” and look for October 17, 2011, especially Part II-B, or use this link.
You have to ask - why would Mr. Fromkin be so evasive if there was nothing to hide?
Lastly, I do not have confidence this Legislature’s majority party will actually put in place and fund strong regulations with non-political enforcement – why would they after asserting that regulations are bad? Not to mention a two-year total of Senate/House campaign contributions of $739,450 from the energy industry (2009 – 2011, North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, N&O 5/29/12).
The fracking industry has not shown that they and we are ready to begin this risky process in our state, and we should wait until they prove themselves elsewhere and can and have met the stipulations in the bill before setting up fracking shop here. The risks are just too great.
I’d be happy to hear your views on this bill.
Bert Bowe / Pittsboro
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