Fourth-graders have concluded fracking’s bad

Fourth-graders have concluded fracking’s bad by Steve Israel, January 13, 2013, recordonline
If it were up to nearly four dozen future voters at a Middletown elementary school, fracking would be banned in New York — and the rest of the world. Just listen to what those fourth-graders at Maple Hill Elementary School have to say about the controversial natural gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking:

“It could cause methane explosions, poison water and kill people. It killed cattle,” says 9-year-old Philip Gazer.

“Sometimes, because of fracking, earthquakes could happen,” says 9-year-old Sagnik Chakraborty, citing minor earthquakes in Ohio apparently caused by the underground injection of fracking waste.

Bottom line for the fourth-graders in the classes of Mary Hayes and Patricia McGorry?

“We don’t want to be poisoned by fracking,” says 11-year-old Nancy Jaime.

These kids — most not more than 5 feet tall and 70 pounds, some with voices so small they must be reminded by teacher Hayes to use their big “Mrs. Hayes voice” — tackled fracking for an assignment to write an argumentative essay. I visited the school to meet the kids and see some of their essays. Hayes chose the topic that has divided communities across the state because the kids had no preconceived opinions about fracking, which probably won’t happen in Orange County, but could in neighboring Sullivan, which sits on the gas rich Marcellus shale. And even though she presented both sides of the issue through sources that ranged from CNN and “60 Minutes” to the gas industry’s Energy In Depth Marcellus and the anti-fracking No Frack Almanac, all 44 kids reached the same opinion:

“Fracking is very bad for the earth,” writes 9-year-old Danielle Vanderkooy. “… Gov. Cuomo should not allow New York State to frack.”

But the kids aren’t just parroting slogans chanted at protests and public hearings during the four years the state has debated whether to allow the natural gas extraction method that uses a mixture of sand, water and chemicals to get at the gas. They did their research.

“According to the article ‘Congressional Probe Finds Carcinogens in Fracking Fluids,’ 650 cancer causing chemicals (carcinogens) are being placed into the earth,” writes Tatyana Ocasio, 9. “Even though landowners may get richer from the natural gas, carcinogens are being placed in the earth.”

Aidan Cabassa, 9, cites another problem with fracking, truck traffic — and its consequence.

“Traffic and noise will be increased,” he writes. “Fracking will decrease tourism in areas of New York State.”

And even though those for fracking stress its many safeguards — such as the concrete casing around wells that reach more than a mile underground, Nayeli Marin, 9, says accidents could still happen. “The gas can leak and the chemicals can leak into the aquifer, and it can poison our water,” she says. …

“We don’t want cancer at the age of 9,” says 9-year-old Brianna Wisher.

Kayla Salazar, 9, goes one step further. She urges the father of three girls to think ahead: “Let the environment be good for the children of the future.” [Emphasis added]

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