Archive for June 23rd, 2010

I wrote a whole post this morning on the film Gasland, that premiered the other night on HBO and eexplores the adverse effects of natural gas drilling on the communities where it occurs.  But after reading it, I trashed it because I didn’t really know what I wanted to say.

By that I mean I understand the need for exploration of  energy sources.  We’re a growing country and just by the virtue of our continual growth we will consume more and more energy.  When I was a kid the population of the USA was around  185 million people.  Today, it’s 310 million.  More people,  more energy to transport and heat them.  Simple.

And I understand the landowners who lease their land to the gas companies.  Many are going through hard times, especially in the less affluent rural areas where many of these gas explorations are taking place.  I know. I live in such a place, with the controversial Marcellus Shale under my feet.   You see landowners and family farms that are facing more and more financial hardships just to stay afloat suddenly offered a boatload of cash backed by the promise that these companies are pros and nothing can go wrong.  Whay would you do if you had to choose between just scratching and just  maybe getting by or accepting an offer that would set you up financially for several years and perhaps not even have any effect on your property?

And I understand the great income the gas drillers offer for the local businessmen in the areas where they drill.   The motels are full with gas workers, the convernience stores and taverns bustling.  Hell, they even hire a local or two to work for the gas company.  It’s a little economic boom.

But at what cost? 

In a perfect world, nothing would go wrong.  The experts would always know everything and leave nothing to chance.  The contractors and workers would be professional and never cut a corner.  The gas companies would never put anyone in harm’s way for their own profit.  Besides, our regualory agencies oversee everything and protect  our best interests.

I would love to believe all of these things.  But this ain’t no perfect world, brother.  And, as the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe has taught us, the experts don’t always know everything.  People cut corners.  Companies put profit before people, animals and the environment.  And our regulatory agencies have divided allegiances to both us and their pals with the gas companies who they supposedly oversee.

Like I said, I don’t really know what I want to say here.  Perhaps just a cautionary note to those who stand to gain from risking their land.  Things go wrong.  People cheat and steal.  People lie.  And when the gas and the money’s gone, what will be left behind?

Look at both sides of the argument.  See Gasland.  Read the opposing views on the websites that have sprung up in defense of the gas industry.  And keep in mind what is the motivating force behind each.  Who is really looking out for you and who is looking out for their own pocketbooks?

Enough said…

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