This is a guest-post by a high-school student who writes for “The Whisk,” (Motto: “Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.”- Edward Abbey) a high-school newspaper from a school near Boston.
The reason I want to include it is because it’s refreshing to see young people think in such a good, logical way, and not be swayed by labeling and ad hominem attacks.
To that effect, I also want to include the brilliant introduction to the first issue of “The Whisk” before the article about fracking.
Introduction – So what the heck is this?
This is a new publication from your peers here at GHS, dedicated to all things environmentally and socially progressive. Not really though. Wait, what?
You see, in this hyper-everything world that we live in, the public’s attention span is widely accepted to be quite short. Like many widely accepted things, this may not be true. But what is true is that most media and other such things in our current culture assume that this is the case; that our attention spans don’t span more than a few seconds at best. Hence, we see the use of quick words and phrases that are meant to sum up grand concepts. There is a prevailing black and white mentality, a whose-side-are-you-on, contentious mindset that fosters ill will and misunderstanding.
You are no doubt keenly aware of this. High school is one of the most concentrated places of this culture. If you dress “this” way and hang out with “these” people, then you must be “that”. This seems to carry on into the adult world, where nearly everyone is likely to be pulled into some sort of faction in the minds of others. A Democrat has to like bigger government, unions and protecting the environment. A Republican must be for smaller government, abolition of unions and corporate interests. No doubt, you are sure to find a democrat and a republican who do those things. But not all. There are democrats who are not for larger government. There are even Republicans who are for the environment! They’re called Republicans for Environmental Protection. Their slogan has a green elephant, and they operate under the motto “there’s nothing more conservative than conservation”.
The point trying to be made here is that we can’t allow labeling. We can’t content ourselves with breaking things down to their bare minimum. We have to read the facts and not the opinions. Our opinions should be our own. It may be hard to follow something that you believe when it goes against the beliefs of those around you. But we urge you to make that jump. We live in the United States! It is still our right, for the most part, to think and say and be what we feel like.
So is the whisk a hippie publication bent on infecting your soul, curving your spine and keeping the country from winning the war (to phrase from the late, great George Carlin)? Some articles might be. But that doesn’t make the entire publication such. The Whisk is not radical. It is a zine meant to call to your attention what is too often lacking in this hectic world of ours: logic. Common sense. Coming from the Environmental Club, one might say that this is biased. It’s not! In the words on one Edward Abbey: “Reason has seldom failed us because it has seldom been tried.” An environmentalist might support the shift to natural gas for our energy needs.
Someone applying reason might look at the process this entails, and the destruction and pollution it renders upon the earth, and conclude otherwise.
The Whisk seeks to try reason. Please be skeptical of everything you read here, or anywhere for that matter, that is not explicitly presented as a fact. Then, if so inclined, we encourage you to look things up for yourself. The Internet rocks. So read on with one eyebrow raised, and become a part of our little movement to eradicate ignorance, prejudice, fanaticism, pretentiousness and all such mean nasty things.
What the FRACK?
By Sylvia Wilde
As the carbon fuels that we’ve used to restructure the Earth’s atmosphere and ravage its climate begin to dwindle, coal, oil, and gas companies are scrambling to tear every last bit of fossil fuel out of the ground–as violently as necessary. Coal companies are blowing up mountains for thin seams of coal, oil companies are denuding thousands of square miles of land to get at tar sands, and natural gas companies are fracking.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, is the method used to release pockets of methane from a type of rock–such as shale–that is particularly impermeable. The process goes like this:
Gas companies will drill a well deep underground to the rock where the methane deposits are. Then, they will pump a mixture of sand, water, and other chemicals into the ground at such a high pressure that the bedrock cracks. When it does, the sand in the mixture fills the cracks, holding them open and allowing the gas to finally seep out.
This process wastes staggering amounts of water–millions of gallons for each frack–but it has the potential to pollute far more. Hundreds of tons of volatile organic compounds are used each time a well is fractured, and many of these compounds are carcinogens (cancer causers) or endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals that throw off our body chemistry by mimicking our hormones. When the casings to the wells leak, they release water contaminated with gas and toxic chemicals into the water table. Fracking has been linked to over 1,000 instances of contaminated drinking water, and some people have even had water coming out of their faucet that was flammable because of the methane in it.
So how are they getting away with this? The energy policy act of 2005 created a loophole for frackers that exempted them from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other EPA-enforced laws. Now the gas companies don’t even have to tell what chemicals they’re putting into their fracking fluid. That means, even when there is proven water contamination, it can’t necessarily be traced back to the frackers.
All of this is starting to get a lot scarier for those of us who live out east. Companies like Halliburton have been fracking for years in western states like Colorado and Wyoming, but now they’re invading states like Pennsylvania and New York so that they can exploit the vast Marcellus Shale that lies beneath them. It’s time to get angry.
Right now, the battle over what gas companies are going to be able to do is being waged on both a state and national level. Last November, the people of New York State made a stand and put a freeze on all fracking in their state; they were unwilling to watch the NYC’s water be contaminated by corporate greed. This is a good first step, but we can’t stop here: if we’re going to protect our health and our environment, we can’t be apathetic, we need to act now. Here’s what you can do:
1) Tell your friends and family about hydraulic fracturing and why it’s so fracking stupid.
2) Call, email, or write to your senators and your representative in congress, asking them to cosponsor The FRAC Act, H.R. 2766 or S. 1215, which would hold natural gas companies accountable under the Safe Drinking Water act and force them to tell what chemicals they’re fracking with.