After over 400 miles, a dozen awareness events, and 10 days on the road, team Tour de Frack arrived in Washington DC last week with six gallons of water from the Woodlands. On July 26th the team carried the contaminated water and copies of Stories from the Shalfields
, a book full of first person accounts, with them to meet with members of congress. Our first meeting was with Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler County. Although he seemed skeptical of our concerns, the representative agreed to meet with the families of the Woodlands during the August recess.
We also met with members of Sen. Toomey and Sen. Casey’s staff and left information with countless other members of congress. Our last meeting of the day was in the West Wing of the White House where team members met with Heather Zichal-President Obama’s Deputy Assistant for Energy and Climate Change. Unfortunately, the message from almost everyone we meet with was the same; “our hands are tied.”
So if our elected officials cannot help us, where do we turn? We must empower the people and force the decision makers to listen and be clear that we will push them aside. When people lead the politicians will follow. The ride may be over but TDF will continue telling stories of people like the ones found in this beautiful short film by Rich Waters The Woodlands.
We truly believe that once people see the true human and econimic costs of fracking the fog that has been intentionally created by those invested in the industry will lift and we will be forced to make meaningful fact-based decisions instead of sailing around in the dark while other profit on our health and community.
The stories we collected will soon be available on-line. For more information about what is happening in Butler County sign up for Marcellus Outreach Butler’s newsletter here
and visit their website www.marcellusoutreachbutler.org
Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.
As I swam off our anchored sailboat at the western edge of Lake Arthur, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate freedom. I watched my family float in the crisp clean water of the lake, and I felt a calm that is hard to come by in the shalefields. Bliss, these days, is hard to come by.
I hate the word shalefields. Western Pennsylvania was once synonymous with sweet water creeks for kayaking, local ponds for fishing, and slow winding roads for bicycle rides. Is it any wonder why in 2009 tourism overtook agriculture as Butler’s top industry? But what was oft described as an outdoorsman’s paradise now has this new demarcation and all that comes with it. We are promised jobs, environmental stewardship, and sensitivity to the community. More often than not, what we find are industrial shortcuts, unintended consequences, snarling traffic, fractured communities, and an erasure of our outdoor herita ge. It must stop!
When speaking with an organizer from Save Western Maryland on the phone last weekend, I pulled up behind a residual waste truck with temporary plates at a stop sign. It was the same red cylinder truck with a cat-walk on the driver’s side that I have seen countless times all over the state. Once you know what’s in them you look at them in the same way that early humans must have looked at saber-tooth tigers; as a threat. The smell was horrific. This truck was loaded. A driver just a few days earlier had told me that they were not supposed to use Rt. 528N when they were loaded, but that this rule was frequently broken. This driver seemed to be Exhibit A. He turned left onto Rt. 422W heading towards Ohio.
After a BBQ at home, we finished our 4th of July celebrations at the community park, in the baseball field listening to the Pittsburgh Philharmonic playing songs from the Wizard of Oz
and watching the fireworks overhead. The children played in the infield while we sat in the outfield facing the third base wall. We took solace in the fact that these explosions were in the air and not under our feet.
The temporary comfort of forgetting is blissful, but knowledge is power, and we at TDF intend to use and spread ours. Clicking our heals three times will not solve anything.
Please consider a safe and tax-deductible donation
to TDF via Clean Water Fund. We are half-way through our fund drive and have reached 25% of our goal.J.B.
At the end of a long, hot day, bicyclists and walkers cooled off in the park’s sprinklers and celebrated a successful march in the Don’t Frack Ohio campaign. In an attempt to preserve their water from natural gas drilling, concerned citizens, stretching from Boston to Raleigh, attended a three-day training in Columbus, OH. Their efforts culminated on Sunday in a day of action when over 1,000 concerned citizens marched on the Ohio Statehouse declaring their right to say no to the drilling companies. The event was the largest citizen action taken against fracking in Ohio’s history.
350.org served as the host organization that put together the training events. It is named such because 350 parts per million of carbon-dioxide in the air is the highest safe level recommended by scientists. However, Josh Fox, film maker and creator of Gasland, pointed out that 350 is also symbolic of the $350,000 that the gas industry gave to OH’s Governor, Fox stated, “that means that there’s a horizontal well bore going down from somewhere in the gas industry, snaking underneath the capitol and injecting money up through the chamber. They’re fracking up your government.”Tour de Frack
, a Butler County, PA based organization, was in attendance, carrying jugs of drinking water from water wells that had been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing in their community. The group plans to ride from Butler, PA to Washington, D.C. in an effort to raise awareness about the toxic effects of natural gas drilling. The riders will meet with various groups in D.C. and participate in the Stop the Frack Attack
rally that will be held Saturday, July 28 on the lawn of the Capitol.
As the “gold rush” for natural gas continues to put profit before people, citizens are waking up to the reality of grave health concerns, including headaches, vomiting, intestinal poisoning and cancers. In the country, farmers are faced with stillborn animals and dead livestock. Pennsylvania seems to be serving the eastern part of the country as a lab rat, and if there’s anything we can learn from the disasters out west, especially in Wyoming, it’s that it is impossible to contain all of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. For every gallon of frack fluid that goes into the Marcellus Shale, only half of the waste water is returned.
Please voice your concern in your local community. Educate yourself around the issues and know-You Are Not Alone.
-Shayna Metz (TDF)
Jason talks about the importance the protecting fresh clean water for today and for generations in Ohiopyle, PA and elsewhere.