Facts about fracking can't be ignored

August 06. 2014 7:49AM
By Jen Stevens Special to Weekender

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The environment has been an ever-changing system for thousands of years. People across the world are affected by climate change, damaged eco systems and diminishing natural resources. For the longest time residents in Pennsylvania could turn a blind eye and continue living unaffected by environmental destruction. Our state is changing and now we can't look the other way. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Pennsylvania region has exploded in recent years. Even after scientific proof and solid facts have been brought to the table on how this industry is damaging our environment there are those who still support it.
Since fracking started, wells have opened up all over the state. These wells are often drilled near homes, schools, offices and even parks. Because information about fracking is not always accessible to the public, so many people are ignorant to the facts. Luckily there are individuals and organizations looking to bring awareness to our area on the dangers of fracking.
Energy Justice Summer (EJS) is a joint project between several groups that are looking to build relationships within the shalefields of northeast Pennsylvania. Our area has become a popular site for fracking and EJS plans on providing useful resources to benefit the community. According to a press release sent out by the program, EJS is a group of youth that “have gathered in the shale region of NEPA throughout the summer to facilitate trainings, compile reports, and to fight for the safety of landowners, workers and the environment.”
From trainings to detailed reports, the program consists of three teams, research, education and outreach, and community organizing. EJS is based in Susquehanna County where they can be connected with a community that has been, and continues to be, directly impacted by shale gas development. Northeast Pennsylvania is the most densely developed area of the Marcellus Shale and Susquehanna County alone has had over 680 fracked wells drilled since 2008.
“Rural communities in Pennsylvania are changing from farmland to gas land,” said research team member and Scranton native Charlotte Lewis. “When this source of energy is depleted, what industry will we have left to sustain us?”
Because families close to drilling sites have gotten sick from water contamination and pollutants released during fracking, EJS offers trainings on how to test water. Sarita Farnelli, an education and outreach team member, as well as a student who grew up in Dimock, PA, said fracking made her family's water undrinkable. “I'm still afraid to drink our tap water,” Farnelli said.
EJS wants landowners and locals affected by drilling to know their rights. The group has distributed information to individuals and families living on the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, a territory that would cross into Susquehanna, Wyoming, Columbia, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Lebanon, Lancaster, Clinton and Luzerne county! That's a lot of land. The team is scheduling follow up meetings with
landowners in September who may lose building lots, fruit trees, sugar maple groves, timber sales and pasture land if the pipeline is approved.
Energy Justice Summer is committed to providing resources to grassroots organizing groups battling environmental degradation throughout the nation, and more importantly, right in our backyards. Pennsylvania is changing and while there are those who might think it's for the better, there are a lot of people who disagree.
EJS hopes to open the eyes of local PA residents and change the way people feel about hydraulic fracturing.
For more information on EJS visit energyjusticesummer.org.

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