The woman standing at the podium may seem small and unassuming but don't be fooled she's a powerhouse and has a warning to share with the world. Vera Scroggins is a mother, a grandmother, resident of Susquehanna County, PA and a member of Citizens for Clean Water, a citizen-watch group of volunteers who keep an eye on the gas-drilling process by videotaping and keeping tabs on any problems or concerns. But today Vera's in New York City at Saint John the Divine for the Global Frackdown and her message is loud and clear. "Don't let them in."
Ms. Scroggina was born in Germany but her family fled in order to escape the Nazi's and she speaks out against the horrors of hydrofracking so we can't, like the Germans, make the excuse, we didn't know. She's here to make sure we don't make the same mistake and allow hydrofracking in New York.
Yes, there's something rotten in Susquehanna County and it's called hydrofracking. What the heck is hydrofracking anyway? In a nutshell--it's a highly toxic method of extracting natural gas from the shale by drilling down through aquifers, then horizontally through the shale and pumping millions of gallons of clean drinking water full of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals and sand. They then shoot the toxic water into the shale using extreme pressure, which causes small earthquakes, fracturing the shale and releasing the gas.
Former VP and Halliburton Exec, Dick Cheney's made sure the gas companies don't have to divulge any of these toxic chemicals by implementing an energy policy, which conveniently exempted hydrofracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Superfund Act, now referred to as the Halliburton Loophole. So all this hydrofracking is completely unregulated.
Fracking is currently occurring in 34 states and they plan on selling most of the natural gas overseas where they can get a lot more money for it. And as luck would have it the Marcellus shale reserves are mainly located in Pennsylvania and upstate New York and now they want to frack New York.
"You're next! After several years of devastating many Western states, gas-drilling companies are now descending on the East--especially West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. They have already leased large areas including the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basins, and are poised to contaminate the water supplies of 41 million people from the states of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. These drilling companies have already ripped through western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, leaving these areas in ruins.
Once the water and earth are poisoned, there is no going back. The chemicals used in fracking do not biodegrade. Worse, there is no known technology to treat or filter the fluid waste. The small percentage of waste extracted usually ends up re-injected somewhere else, or worse, dumped. These toxins will be in our soil, water and air, for thousands of years -- and all for a short-term energy plan." United for Action
This is where Vera comes in. Ms. Scroggins and her family moved to Susquehanna County about 20 years ago to the "little farm of her dreams" where she could breath clean air and drink clean, fresh well water. She was perfectly content living her life until one day a friend, who lives in nearby Dimock, called and asked her to come take a look at what was going on because the gas companies wanted to drill.
Ms. Scroggins elaborates, "Four years ago a gas company drilled in Pennsylvania and they've had nothing but violations and problems. The company said there would be one well but thus far there are 150 and counting within 30 square miles.
She insists the gas companies lied to the residents telling them they'd be in and out very quickly and just do a little drilling here and there and you'd hardly notice as there'd only be one well with a small pole sticking out above ground that would look sort of like a Christmas tree or a cross.
The gas companies also promised jobs to the locals but it turns out only 10% of these jobs go to the local residents. The people, with stars in their eyes, in the hopes of jobs and money, believed and signed. She acknowledges, "10% of the large landowners will make some money."
The gas companies also forgot to mention they use fine sand from Wisconsin and people breath this into their lungs." She informs us, "This is where your food comes from. Cows now have rashes and farmers are still milking and selling their products because there are no regulations."
Her talk is accompanied by slides of these monstrosities encircled by tall-wired fences bearing ominous "Keep Out" signs as a caution to others.
She goes on, "Four years later there are 150 wells. One of the companies, Cabot Oil and Gas, has been fined again and again and found guilty of contaminating 18 wells. They're been banned from 9 square miles where they're not allowed to drill or frack. Cabot was ordered, since the effected families are no longer able to drink their now contaminated water, to bring clean water in on a daily basis. So the gas company brought in water buffalos, a 1,100 gallon white plastic tank filled with highly chlorinated water. They also bring in cases of clean water for drinking.
I did some drilling of my own and found this report: Drillers cited for 3,300 violations in four years.