¿Quién mueve los hilos del Fracking?

FRACK ACTION ha difundido un vídeo titulado “Espectáculo de marionetas” en el que se muestra a la industria del gas moviendo los hilos del “Department of Environmental Conservation” (DEC)  del Estado de Nueva York.

El jueves 14 de junio de la organización FRACK ACTION dio a conocer un video que detalla muchos de los fallos e insuficiencias del reciente informe emitido por el “Departamento de Conservación del Medio Ambiente” de Nueva York (DEC).

Bajo el velo de un mal sueño, el vídeo tiene la forma de un espectáculo de títeres, con la industria del gas en el papel del maestro de las marionetas y la División de Derechos Minerales del DEC como marioneta.

El vídeo aborda algunos de los asuntos clave que han surgido acerca de la fractura hidráulica. Una de las cuestiones que se plantean es la del radón (gas altamente radiactivo considerado como la primera causa de cáncer de pulmón entre los no fumadores) presente en las pizarras de la “Marcellus Shale”. Muchos científicos, así como la EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), han expresado su preocupación por las graves consecuencias para la salud del radón que se encuentra presente junto con el gas en las pizarras Marcellus.

Este es el texto en inglés del artículo y del guión del vídeo:

The release of Frack Action’s video comes in conjunction with the New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition’s rally outside of Governor Cuomo’s office at 12:00 – 1:00 PM on June 14. The noon rally is part of a New Yorkers Against Fracking statewide day of action. They will be rallying for a ban in front of Governor Cuomo’s office in the NYS Capitol and demanding that it is not okay to turn any part of New York into a sacrifice zone. Frack Action will also be delivering to the Governor a copy of the video script, Frack Action’s statement about DEC’s relationship with EPA Region 2, and the June 13 Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Health Energy / Environmental Working Group technical document detailing the top 10 flaws of the SGEIS.

Mixing dark humor with hard facts and science, the video touches on the questionable nature of the public comment review process, many of the egregious flaws and inadequacies in the SGEIS, as well as key concerns about fracking that the DEC has not studied. The puppet show, a dream, is introduced by questioning how over 13,000 public comments from 2009 took 20 months to review yet over 66,000 comments on the recent SGEIS could be finished in less than a third of that time.

With the gas industry asking questions of the DEC Mineral Rights Division puppet, the video tackles many key concerns that have been raised about fracking. One such issue addressed is radon from the highly radioactive Marcellus Shale (radon being the #1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers). Many scientists, as well as the EPA, have raised concerns about serious health ramifications from radon traveling with Marcellus Shale gas into people’s homes and lungs. The video highlights how the DEC has dealt with the issue:

“Gas Industry as Puppet Master: The EPA warns of dangerous exposure to radon in Marcellus natural gas.

DEC Mineral Rights Division as Puppet: Radon-schmadon! We covered that in 1 sentence in our 1,500-page report.

Gas Industry as Puppet Master: Oh? The EPA and CDC note that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and that radon in Marcellus gas may increase radon in the gas New Yorkers burn for cooking by 100 times or more.

DEC Mineral Rights Division as Puppet: Why should they cook? Let them support the restaurant industry in New York City!”

The release of this video follows what has been a week of revelations about the DEC’s inadequate and flawed review of fracking. First, Jon Campbell of Gannett News Service wrote a breaking article (http://j.mp/MBgrsz) about NY DEC’s relationship with EPA Region 2 that brings to light a number of issues, chief among them DEC’s seeming aversion to the science and grave concerns raised by EPA Region 2 (see Frack Action’s statement at http://j.mp/KMB8XZ). Then on Wednesday, June 13, leading scientists from Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Health Energy (PSE) and theEnvironmental Working Group (EWG) released a technical document (http://j.mp/L5YFkV) detailing the top 10 flaws of the SGEIS.

For example, the scientists took issue with the DEC’s proposal to only drill in areas of deeper shale, a plan revealed on June 13 in the New York Times that appears to perpetuate what the scientists call “seemingly arbitrary, unscientific thinking behind the published draft plan.” They note that state officials claim they can prevent pollution by limiting drilling to areas in the Marcellus Shale near the PA border where the shale is at least 2,000 feet deep. The PSE/EWG report solidly refutes this faulty science.

In their release, A.R. Ingraffea, president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and a professor of engineering at Cornell University who specializes in rock fracturing, said, “In light of the recent call by the U.S. Department of Energy for much more empirical scientific information about the safety of high volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, and the limited amount of solid scientific support for the program proposed for New York, it would be reckless and irresponsible to proceed with drilling at this time.”

The developments this week are in line with a pattern that previously prompted Peter Kiernan, who served as counsel to ex-Gov Paterson, to say on February 28, 2012 on Capitol Pressroom that the only science in the mix right now on fracking is “political science.”

Regarding the developments this week and with the release of Frack Action’s video, John Armstrong of Frack Action said, “Governor Cuomo has said that his decision on fracking will be based on science, not emotion. We hope that the Governor will recognize that the DEC’s review of fracking couldn’t be farther from being the best science on which he has said he will base his decision, and that the best available science is in fact quite decisive that fracking cannot be done without jeopardizing the health and well being of New Yorkers.”

Puppet Show Video Script:

Observer (NY Resident):  I have been thinking a lot about how it took the NYS DEC 20 months to review 13,000 comments and revise the SGEIS, which they released in 2009. There were so many critical issues that were not properly addressed in that document, and it still took them 20 months. And they are now saying they will soon be finished reviewing over 66,000 comments on the revised SGEIS document released last September.  I keep asking myself, how could this be?  And then I had this dream…

GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): New York City DEP officials call for a 7 mile buffer from their watershed and infrastructure. What did you say, Mr. Division of Mineral Resources?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): I said New York City’s water infrastructure needs no buffer. It’s okay to drill anywhere near the tunnels.   Just get a special review to drill within 1,000 feet. Why listen to a bunch of scientists?


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Some say it should take a long time to review 66,000 comments, many highly technical. Is that right?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): We just enrolled all of our employees in Exxon’s speed-reading course…and we’re done.


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): The EPA warns of dangerous exposure to radon in Marcellus natural gas.

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): Radon-schmadon! We covered that in 1 sentence in our 1,500-page report.


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Oh? The EPA and CDC note that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and that radon in Marcellus gas may increase radon in the gas New Yorkers burn for cooking by 100 times or more.

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): Why should they cook? Let them support the restaurant industry in New York City!


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Scientists are saying that fracking and methane gas release contributes significantly to climate change?  What did you say?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): Ahem, we directly cited the Chesapeake Energy website for our data of the non-impact of methane leakage’s impact on climate change.  We wanted to be sure to base our recommendation on “real science.”


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): According to drilling company disclosures, petroleum distillates used to frack a single well in New York could contain enough benzene to contaminate more than 100 billion gallons of drinking water.   That is more than 10 times the amount of water the state uses in a single day.

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): We ignored the silly US Geological Survey and their concerns and said that fracking happens too far underground.


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Some scientists have expressed concern that natural gas drilling operations could cause earthquakes like the ones experienced in Youngstown, Ohio.  What did you say?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): We said that drilling companies would avoid New York’s faults and when the US Geological Survey said that our maps are grossly under-representative, we ignored them again.


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Other researchers have raised concerns about fracking fluids spreading through leaks or cracks in casing or cement in the wells.  What did you say?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): We cited a drilling industry study of wastewater injection wells, which are different than natural gas production wells, to establish conclusively that these risks are remote.  We did not cite a study of thousands of offshore oil and gas wells by Schlumberger, a major hydraulic fracturing company, which found that fifty percent of the wells had developed gas leaks in their casing by their 15th year of operation and we also omitted a study of thousands of onshore oil and gas wells in Canada published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers which found that about 4.5 percent of wells had gas leaks – a figure that jumped to more than 15 percent in an area with rigorous testing for leaks. Some people might speculate that if there are cracks in the well that allow gas to migrate to the surface from deep underground, fluids could leach into water supplies through the same pathways.  We think they are just overthinking this!


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Again on the silly issue of cement failures, we can avoid all of the problems like Pennsylvania has simply by adding an additional casing layer, right?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): Of course, although most Pennsylvania wells already had that additional layer and failure rates have been increasing. But hey, no industry is perfect!


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Back to the US Geological Survey again, they said that a 500 foot no-drilling zone would not be adequate to protect private water wells. What did you say?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): We said 500 feet is plenty.  Besides, if something went wrong, people could always sell their homes.  We’ve already drafted some real estate listings just in case.  One of them says:  three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, bring your own water.  Oh, and no smoking near the kitchen sink.


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Some landowners say you failed to warn them about the risks of drilling before they signed leases, and now they worry about their property values and health. Your thoughts?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): We publish a brochure for landowners that says “the actual drilling of a well is a temporary activity that may involve a large amount of equipment similar to other construction projects.”  Some people might argue that typical construction projects don’t involve three thousand truck trips with trucks hauling hazardous chemicals, the underground injection of millions of gallons of toxic fluid at high pressure and the disposal of about two million gallons of wastewater contaminated with radioactive materials. But isn’t that just quibbling?


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER) he EPA has raised questions about the state’s plan to allow radioactive wastewater from drilling operations to be sprayed on roads for important purposes like deicing.  What did you say?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): We said we’re still thinking about it.  Personally, I’ve always found that in the wintertime, nothing clears the snow and ice off my walk like radioactive waste.  That’s why I always keep a bag near my front door.


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Advocacy groups representing 100,000 New York cancer patients wrote to the governor last fall complaining about all the carcinogens in the fracking fluid and all the carcinogens in the vapors flowing out of the wellheads.  What did you say?

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): I said hey, cancer girls, don’t worry, be happy!  We’ve got SETBACKS to deal with carcinogens.  They work just like non-smoking sections in airplanes!


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): Then, health scientists said, Mr. Mineral Resources, what about kids? They are so sensitive to every damn thing!  They are forever getting ASTHMA and BIRTH DEFECTS and LEARNING DISABILITIES.

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): I say children should be seen and not heard!  That’s why I never mention them in my 1,537 page SGEIS!


GAS INDUSTRY (PUPPET MASTER): What?  You mean to say, Mr. Mineral Resources, sir, that the word CHILDREN does not appear AT ALL in a 1,537-page, 15-pound report on the environmental impacts of fracking!  That’s impressive!

DEC Mineral Rights Division (Puppet): You think?  Well, that report passes right by the word MISCARRIAGE, too.  We can’t risk getting people really upset over a few dumb chemicals that have the power to END PREGNANCIES!


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