Letter: Fracking a bust for Pennsylvanians

Letter: Fracking a bust for Pennsylvanians by Grant A. Mincy, March 29, 2013, Knoxnews
In response to the letter titled “Fracking a boon to Pennsylvanians,” as a University of Tennessee-trained geologist now conducting research on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in North Carolina, I have a few issues to raise. It is true that naturally occurring methane is found in Pennsylvanian water and that methane expulsion will differ from site to site naturally. The devil is in the details, however, as this methane will have a biogenic origin. The methane found in contaminated drinking wells in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal had a thermogenic origin. This was proven by isotopic analysis of the methane and linked methane contamination to the fractured shale units, thus fracking.

The claim that the federal government and the states of Pennsylvania or New York have not been able to “scientifically certify any problems with hydraulic fracturing” is false. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey directly linked fracking to groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyo. There have been numerous cases of documented water contamination in Pennsylvania and New York. Just recently, the Geological Society of America issued a peer-reviewed report about injection waste being linked to earthquakes (5.6 on the Richter scale) in Oklahoma.

Fracking has brought almost $2 billion to Pennsylvania, but where there is a boom there is always a bust. Though industry will operate in the state for years to come, once a gas reservoir is exploited industry moves on, leaving communities to deal with the economic bust and captive markets that follow. The holdup to gas extraction across the nation has indeed been political. It has come from the grassroots, from organized people upset over compulsory pooling, eminent domain, air, water and noise pollution. Tennesseans should be paying close attention to what is happening in the Volunteer State.

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