Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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January 25th, 2013

Will Fracking Destroy the Countryside?

The headline reads “Will Fracking Destroy the Countryside So We Can Get Cheap Energy Bills?” The striking article asserts that “Fracking and other similar methods of extracting gas and oil from beneath the surface of the earth could help solve our energy needs for a century or ravage our green and pleasant land beyond recognition.”

I know this all sounds familiar, but I am not writing about the hydrofracking controversy in the United States, I am writing about the issue facing the people in Balcombe, a town in Sussex England.

Scanning news stories from around the globe, I recently discovered an article that was featured on the front page of the London Express vividly detailing the tension that is familiar to all of us.

As we all await to learn if hydrofracking will be permitted in New York State, it is interesting to see how other countries are confronting the same issue and how the battlegrounds are similar to ours.

In England supporters say approval will send fuel bills tumbling and point to the United States where they claim hydrofracking has been used extensively for more than 30 years.

However, the company that is seeking to hydrofrack in Balcombe recently admitted that they were likely responsible for tremors in Blackpool where they have been fracking. A tremor measuring 2.3 on the Richter scale was felt last spring, followed by an event that measured 1.5.

“It is highly probable that the hydraulic fracturing of Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall-1 well did trigger a number of minor seismic events,” the company Cuadrilla admitted while claiming there was no threat to people and property in the local area caused by the drilling.

The article reads that the company’s development director was “harangued” by residents when he agreed to answer questions about their plans in Balcombe. The meeting was labeled as being an “extremely uncomfortable evening amid allegations that it was hijacked by outside environmentalists.”

“What you are about to do will make our water beyond toxic,” shouted one pensioner. Another man bawled: “It’s all about money. Go away!”

Graphic images showing flames erupting from a kitchen tap from the documentary Gasland were used to claim that can happen when methane leaks into supplies making it possible to set light to water. But, the article points out that “supporters say this is complete nonsense and it’s always been possible to perform the trick by putting a match to naturally occurring methane in water.”

In England up to 20 companies are involved in the efforts to extract new forms of gas and oil. So far about 100 sites have been identified but that’s likely to rise.

Supporters of fracking claim it is a cheap, safe and proven form of energy, and in the United States gas costs have fallen by 60 percent. “So, why ban it in Britain where 20,000 pensioners die every year from the effects of the cold?”

The writer of the article observes, “Despite hiring a PR company which boasts that it specialises in tough assignments, the frackers appear to be losing the first skirmishes.”

“Although reassurances have been given that pollution in the US was caused by the irresponsible side of the industry, residents everywhere remain deeply suspicious. It’s hardly surprising after it’s been claimed (erroneously, say the drillers) that a 10-well fracking operation has the same impact as a nuclear bomb underground.”

Interesting stuff – Isn’t it?

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