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The Real Cost of Fracking: How America's Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food (Anglais) Relié – 5 août 2014

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From the Introduction

In the summer of 2009, we were awakened. Articles began to appear in our local papers on the subject of fracking, the common name for the entire process of unconventional gas extraction (horizontal drilling with high-volume hydraulic fracturing) whereby millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals are pushed deep into the earth under high pressure to release small pockets of gas held tightly in the rock (see “A Primer on Gas Drilling” in the appendix). In our tight-knit community, people on both sides of the issue enthusiastically expressed their opinions. One article in particular caught our attention and led us to a website indicating that our small property in upstate New York was surrounded by neighbors who had already leased their lands to energy companies for gas drilling. We learned that our land could be drilled under and the gas extracted without our consent. That is, as long as a gas company owns leases on at least a certain percentage of the land (in New York, it is 60 percent) inside a certain amount of space (typically, one square mile), gas can be extracted from properties within that area even if the company does not have a lease on that land. Unleased land is taken by a process known as compulsory integration.

We were concerned about what this meant for our water and air—as yet untainted—but we also wondered if our farmers’ markets, CSAs (community-supported agriculture groups), and Finger Lakes wineries could survive the massive industrialization we were beginning to see in Pennsylvania. Would faculty, staff, and students—the mainstay of our economy—continue to be attracted to Cornell University and Ithaca College if the lakes and streams were polluted, the air fouled, and the land mottled by a matrix of shale gas wells? Would tourists continue to visit our picturesque parks, waterfalls, and gorges if thwarted by drilling traffic and diesel fumes?

Because of our interest in veterinary medicine, we became keenly aware of what was happening to companion animals and livestock in areas near existing industrial oil and gas operations. We heard stories we found hard to believe: healthy cattle dying within one hour after exposure to hydraulic fracturing fluid; cows failing to reproduce and herds with high rates of stillborn and stunted calves after exposure to drilling wastewater; dogs failing to reproduce after drinking contaminated well water; cats, dogs, and horses developing unexplained rashes and having difficulty breathing after living in intensively drilled areas. Our search for what really happened in each situation led us to document exposures and subsequent health problems by detailed case reports—just as would be done for a new disease—in both animals and their owners. We discovered that all too often, the humans in the household also experienced health problems associated with drilling operations and that sometimes the symptoms were the same ones their pets or farm animals had experienced.

As we soon learned, the potential threat to our community is just a small part of a worldwide debate that has at its core the values and essence of modern life. That is, we require energy to live in the modern world, but what degree of risk and environmental degradation are acceptable to obtain that energy? Who should be asked to sacrifice, and who should profit?

After untold hours of research, we learned more about the fossil fuel industry than we ever thought we’d have a reason to know. Drilling originally exploited pockets of oil or gas and, in most cases, had a small impact on the communities surrounding the drilling sites, as confirmed by many of the people we interviewed. The changes in recent years, which involve extracting gas directly from shales rather than pockets of gas, have been made possible by two technologies: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Shale layers are 50 to 200 feet thick, and in order to contact more of the shale, the drill bit must be turned to run horizontally.

The technique of horizontal drilling was actually first applied to dentistry. In 1891, John Smalley Campbell (US Patent Number 459,152) described the idea that flexible shafts could be used to rotate drilling bits for dental applications, but he didn’t exclude the notion that his invention might someday be used for other purposes: “It is obvious that its use is not confined thereto, but that it may be applied to flexible drivingshafts or cables of any other description.” Although the first recorded horizontal oil well was drilled in 1929 in Texas, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the process was improved and applied with some success. Likewise, one of the first uses of hydraulic fracturing had nothing to do with extracting oil or gas. Instead, Thomas Leonard Watson used an early form of this process in 1908 to separate granite from bedrock in order to study granites. Hydraulic fracturing—using low volumes of water, not the high volumes used today—was introduced in the 1940s and was originally used to stimulate the flow of gas, and subsequently oil, from vertical wells. In this way, the driller could extract oil or gas from relatively nonporous rock, such as shales, rather than simply from pockets of free oil or gas.

By the 1990s, the technology for modern-day horizontal drilling was married to fracturing with very high volumes of chemically laced water (slickwater)—thus the term horizontal drilling with high-volume hydraulic fracturing—allowing operators to drill down and turn the bit horizontally within the layer of shale containing the fossil fuels, continuing the drilling for up to two miles. The entire length of the well could then be hydraulically fractured, producing far more oil or gas. The idea was that large regions of the country (shale plays) sit on rocks containing fossil fuels that could be extracted with this process. By dividing these shale plays into spacing units of perhaps one square mile, the entire region could be drilled and enormous quantities of oil or gas could be extracted.

In 2008, Terry Engelder of Pennsylvania State University and Gary Lash of State University of New York at Fredonia calculated that the vast Marcellus and Utica Shales underlying parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland contained almost 500 trillion cubic feet of gas. They proposed that this vast reservoir of gas could be the nation’s answer to energy independence, a flagging economy, high unemployment, and global warming. Along with other shale plays in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas, North Dakota, and elsewhere in the United States, the nation would become the next Saudi Arabia of fossil fuels. Although we have little infrastructure to use methane as a fuel in transportation, and although multinational companies with no allegiance to our country are often the ones extracting our fossil fuels, the unconventional oil and gas revolution was also touted as a way of weaning ourselves off foreign oil.

But the more we learned about unconventional fossil fuel extraction, the more we realized that the prospects may not be as rosy as have been projected by the oil and gas industry. The US Geologic Survey reduced the original estimates of gas in the Marcellus region from 500 to 84 trillion cubic feet. The lower estimate represents little more than three times the US yearly domestic gas use, with all of New York potentially contributing, at best, a six-month supply from the Marcellus Shale (not taking into account the plans for export of natural gas by multinational companies). At least for New York, this is likely to be an overestimate, since only wells drilled in counties near the Pennsylvania border are likely be profitable. Also, the output from shale gas wells has been found to decrease dramatically after the first year, suggesting that the production estimates may decrease further. Moreover, when the price of natural gas was low in late 2013, the industry and the US government were prompted to search for more ways of using the product and converting terminals previously used to import gas into export terminals to send the gas to foreign markets. Whether any of the claims associated with the current “oil and gas boom” will stand up to careful scrutiny is a matter of ongoing debate, but large-scale industrial drilling has definitely moved into more densely populated areas and has garnered a massive amount of attention.

Revue de presse

“In this cool, disarming and persuasive indictment of fracking’s widespread negative consequences, the authors provide an important addition to an ongoing debate.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This pragmatic, cautionary analysis is recommended for general readers.”
Library Journal

“Bamberger and Oswald’s message is clear: The canaries of the gas patch are wheezing and keeling over. We are being warned.”

“Here, woven among the courageous words of human witnesses, is the unimpeachable story of science carried out in extreme and intimidating circumstances. It is the sound of silence breaking.”
—Sandra Steingraber, from the Foreword

“A must-read primer on fracking—the compelling interviews and informative narrative tell the heartbreaking story of how people’s lives are destroyed by fracking. If you care about the food you eat or animal welfare issues—read this book!”
—Wenonah Hauter, Director of Food & Water Watch, author of Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America

“Sometimes, just when we think we know enough about a very important subject, a book comes along that shows us—in urgent, even chilling, terms—how much more we need to understand. The Real Cost of Fracking is such a book. It cracks open the reality of fracking and seats us across the kitchen table from real people who have been poisoned—and who, despite being American citizens and taxpayers, can’t do a thing about it. The farmers, retirees and children we meet in these pages are canaries in the fracking mine—and they are in serious danger.”
—Barbara Gottlieb, Director for Environment & Health, Physicians for Social Responsibility

The Real Cost of Fracking adroitly documents the maladies that fracking inflicts on its neighbors and their animals, and Bamberger and Oswald convincingly connect these illnesses with current science and statistical studies. The authors provide a reasoned and impassioned call for government to stop toxic trespass by the fracking industry. The people will demand it after reading Real Cost.”
—Weston Wilson, environmental engineer and EPA whistle-blower

“Finally, here is the narrative that relays the tragic toll of the shale-gas boom in America; how ordinary people, who lovingly care for children and animals, gardens and farms, find themselves imprisoned by the toxicity of the fracked landscapes they once called home. Our hearts break for the ruin they shoulder while we applaud Bamberger and Oswald for drawing back the veil on the injustice being wrought.”
—Amy Seidl, author of Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 12 commentaires
16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Think fracking doesn't affect you? Think again ... 28 août 2014
Par Peggy Tibbetts - Publié sur
Format: Relié
In 2012, veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and Cornell University professor of molecular medicine Robert Oswald published their study, “Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health.” Their report documented cases studies with animal owners in Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. In 24 cases they found evidence of animals affected by drilling and fracking operations. However their report received little media attention. So they wrote a book.

In “The Real Cost of Fracking: How America's Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food,” Bamberger and Oswald tell the stories of those people whose lives and the lives of the animals they loved and cared for were changed forever by drilling and fracking. They even go so far as to mask the identities of people who signed non-disclosure agreements, and who are in some cases speaking out for the first time.

The people in these stories are farmers. They raise livestock and pets, and/or grow “organic” fruits and vegetables that end up on dinner tables across the country. But how safe is food that has been grown and raised in an environment that contains toxic chemicals? In some cases the crops and cattle were contaminated directly from spills of drilling fluids and wastewater, and they went to market anyway.

Bamberger also pays a visit to a tiny community without water after a company fracked in the aquifer underneath the town and blew up all the wells, then walked away from the mess. It is inconceivable that she is describing a town in the United States. Further evidence that fracking is transforming rural America into the Third World.

This book speaks to people who live in the gas patch. Where I live in Silt, Colorado, we are surrounded by more than 10,500 oil and gas wells. My own experience and the experiences of my family, friends and neighbors echo these stories. Yet no matter how much I’ve learned about this issue, no matter how much I think I know there is always something new to learn. I came away from this book with a better understanding of the cumulative effects from exposure to drilling and fracking chemicals in water and air, not only on humans but also animals and plants. How insidiously, over months, then years, the air and water become contaminated and people and animals become sickened.

Moreover “The Real Cost of Fracking” has something for everyone – believers and non-believers alike. Readers who want to stick to the facts about drilling and fracking will find “A Primer on Gas Drilling.” Spoiler alert -- you cannot reach the end of this book and believe fracking is safe. Unless you think it’s all lies. But Bamberger’s and Oswald’s research is well-documented and included.

With fracking happening in 32 states, plus the proliferation of interstate pipelines, silica sand mines (for fracking), bomb trains and earthquakes, and with natural gas exports on the horizon, the impacts of oil and gas development are coming to a neighborhood near you. I advise you to read “The Real Cost of Fracking” as soon as possible.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
No One is Immune to the effects of Fracking...No One! 25 octobre 2014
Par William DuBose - Publié sur
Format: Relié
A must read for anyone who wants to understand Fracking & How it will effect all Americans for Now & The Future!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Very telling book revealing the true costs to the environment ... 18 octobre 2014
Par Lyle Foley - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Very telling book revealing the true costs to the environment and the unfortunate people who live near these wells and pipelines! People are rendered sick and dying and their homes become worthless! You won't see this in the glittering TV ads extolling "clean" natural gas!
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fracking: Do the costs outweigh the benefits? You decide!! 31 mai 2015
Par Stephen Pletko - Publié sur
Format: Relié

(1) "Water dispensers and water buffalos have displaced our water sources"
(2) "All my puppies were born dead"
(3) "I have no calves this year"
(4) "My vet can't figure out what's happening to my animals"
(5) "We had to leave our home to escape the bad air"
(6) "We all have headaches, nosebleeds, and rashes"
(7) "We are not living; we are merely existing"

The above common complaints of people living in fracking (the extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing) areas are found in this revealing book by Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald. Bamberger is a veterinarian & author and Oswald is a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University.

In the beginning chapters of this book we sit across the kitchen table from REAL people who have been seriously affected by fracking, families with children (including babies) and with pets--dogs, cats, horses, goats, pigs, chickens, and a donkey.

The middle chapters encompasses farmers and food-producing animals (largely beef cattle).

In the last chapters, the authors analyse the issues surrounding unconventional gas drilling (which fracking is) and delve into environmental justice.

By giving a voice to people at ground zero of the fracking debate, the authors show us the consequences of fracking and issue an urgent warning to all of us: fracking poses a serious threat to--

(1) The air we breathe
(2) The water we drink
(3) The food we eat

This book superbly illustrates society's modern dilemma:

We require energy to live with our many modern conveniences, but to what degree of environmental degradation, health risks, and food supply threats do we want to accept to obtain that energy?

Finally, for those who want to know the technical details behind fracking, there is an informative appendix entitled "A Primer on Gas Drilling."

In conclusion, it all comes down to this with respect to fracking:

Do the costs outweigh the benefits? Do we welcome oil and gas companies when they come to our neighbourhood with open arms, or do we tell them to "FRACK OFF?"

(First published 2014; foreword; introduction; 9 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 180 pages; appendix; acknowledgements; notes; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An insight into the lives of fracking victims 4 janvier 2015
Par Sam Burandt - Publié sur
Format: Relié
The Real Cost of Fracking: How America's Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food by Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald opened my eyes to a whole new subject, one I knew very little about. Through the stories of real people living in communities where fracking is taking place, I learned firsthand how people’s lives have changed forever due to fracking. Imagine living in a peaceful, rural, farming town and suddenly being taken over by an army of money-hungry energy companies who work with no regards to human or animal life, or the environment as a whole. Water sources are contaminated, along with air quality, by the vast amounts of chemicals used in the fracking process. The worst part about it all is that no matter how much evidence is revealed, the drilling companies take very little responsibility for the problems they have caused and the citizens in the communities suffer. These residents have very little say in regards to anything relating to the fracking, and the politicians and lawyers in the communities are bribed by the companies. The companies are not required to release the names of the chemicals used in the fracking process, so health problems in both humans and animals are even harder to diagnose, and treat. Also, pinpointing the fact that fracking directly relates to the changes in the environment is extremely difficult due to the fact that little testing of water, soil, and air quality was done before fracking started. This provides the companies a “way out” of responsibility for the harmful effects of fracking because they can simply say “How do we not know these chemicals that are showing up in the tests now, were not present before fracking?”. The whole scenario is very surreal, and as your are reading it is hard to envision that these things have taken place/are taking place in the United States of America. I strongly suggest this book to anyone looking for an explanation to what fracking is, and how the environment, people, and animals are affected by it.
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