The Fracking Fiasco

America's latest gold rush portends the greatest environmental disaster of a generation

In 2008, there were just 29 earthquakes in the Midwest. Three years later, after fracking became widespread, the figure had more than quadrupled to 134. Most of them were clustered close to wells.

After a series of earthquakes occurred in Youngstown, Ohio, earlier this year, the state banned gas companies from using deep-injection wells for water disposal.

The problem is that homes outside of natural earthquake areas aren't built to withstand even the smallest of tremors. Nor do insurers offer earthquake coverage in these regions.

Fred Mayer of Newark Valley, New York, got a $58,200 check from Fortuna Energy — and a kitchen faucet he could light on fire
Mark Hewko
Fred Mayer of Newark Valley, New York, got a $58,200 check from Fortuna Energy — and a kitchen faucet he could light on fire
Kevin June was among the residents booted from Riverdale Mobile Home Park near Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, so that Aqua America could build a pumping station that would supply Susquehanna River water to nearby fracking sites
Mark Hewko
Kevin June was among the residents booted from Riverdale Mobile Home Park near Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, so that Aqua America could build a pumping station that would supply Susquehanna River water to nearby fracking sites

Even the Pacific West isn't immune. Since 1924, the Baldwin Hills Oil Field in Los Angeles has been a source of tension between residents and the Plains Exploration and Production Company, which runs the 1,000-acre plot. Last year, the company settled a class-action lawsuit filed by neighbors who claimed that wells contaminated their air and increased the rate of earthquakes.

Now the company, which has largely relied on conventional drilling techniques, plans to frack in the same area. California doesn't regulate or track fracking, giving gas companies free reign to do as they please.


Despite the industry wreaking havoc wherever it goes, America's politicians have decided to look the other way. On June 12, an anonymous source in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration told the New York Times that Cuomo was set to lift the ban in his state, one of the final fracking battlegrounds in the country. (Cuomo's office did not respond to interview requests.)

Less than an hour south of the border, near the town of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, former residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park can be found camping at the edge of Route 220, holding signs that read "Save Riverdale!" and "No Fracking!"

In February, they learned that Richard Leonard, who owns the Riverdale land, had sold it to Aqua America, which supplies fracking companies with water. Residents were ordered to vacate the park by the end of May. Some had lived there for more than 30 years.

In a joint venture with Range Resources, Aqua America plans to spend $12 million turning the land into a pump station, taking three million gallons of water a day from the Susquehanna River. Residents have written and called the company, but have yet to receive a single response. The only contact they had came when a Range security guard showed up to take photos of them setting up camp outside the trailer park.

Nor has the state been any more receptive. Aqua America just happens to be owned by Nicholas DeBenedictis, former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources.

"We just want it all to stop," resident Gerlinda Trimble says. Riverdale is located in Lycoming County, home to more than 667 wells, which have been cited for environmental violations 474 times. One toxic spill dumped 13,000 gallons of fracking fluid into a stream. "It's enough now. They've poisoned our land and now they're taking our homes."

When told that Cuomo might lift the moratorium in New York, Trimble simply shakes her head. "I'll pray for them," she says.

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3 comments
craig.swanson13
craig.swanson13

Is there any responsibility on any level of this?How are you gonna look to a future generation and say we didn't see it coming?

 

philipwright106
philipwright106

These types of story are not new.  Why doesnt Congress pass the bill that will allow the wind energy industry to grow ?

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@philipwright106: wind energy is expensive and horribly inefficient. Atmospheric energy and hemp are most efficient, but as long as kings remain throned, we will never know their benefits.

 
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