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The idea of economic security is appealing, especially for residents of impoverished rural areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and upstate New York, but the immediate financial benefits (which residents will see very little of) are small in comparison to long-term economic, social,
and health problems that gas extraction will create for these communities. In June 2011, Ian Urbina reported in The New York Times that gas companies may be overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves in order to lure investors, with one drilling research firm even referring to shale drilling investments as "giant ponzi schemes." The result could be more wells, and more environmental damage. “If shale gas wells fade faster than expected, energy companies will have to drill more wells or hydrofrack them more often, resulting in more toxic waste.’
Some things to think about....
1. Our scientific understanding is inadequate for responsible risk management. The environmental and health consequences of shale gas drilling are hard to measure, but pervasive and potentially
irreversible. Proposed regulations address only those substances for which we already have criteria. The chemical mixture in "fracking fluid" is only one of many sources of environmental contamination; abandoned capped wells, after economic production ends, will be hazards for millennia to come--far longer than all human experience with concrete and steel.
2. The industry's campaign of disinformation has hijacked public dialog. Citizens can't realistically appraise "risk-benefit" decisions when they are shouted-down by phony claims of imagined economic security and "energy independence," and while their actual experience (deteriorating health, destruction of property values, diversion of water and crop-land) is mocked and trivialized, and court cases remain
3. Democratic institutions are being corrupted by industry money and power. Elected officials, university researchers and educators, consultants, and media outlets can't be relied upon to advocate for the
public interest when they depend upon donations and revenues from industry.
4. A false sense of urgency has been created. There is no near-term domestic demand for shale gas (which, ultimately, will be exported for higher margins to Asia). In truth, energy companies desperately need to prop up their accounting house-of-cards, of which "proven reserves" and "acreage held-by-production" are the foundation.
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