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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/3/16

Walking My Dog While The Battle Rages

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Author 83170
Message Lee Burkett

Here's the thing:

Every morning right after I wake up I take my dog Duff for a long walk. This is always my time to think, to clear my head, to reconnect not only to myself, but to the Earth.

It's cloudy and raining today, but unseasonably warm. Because of the overcast there was no striking sunrise today, but even through the clouds and the rain I could feel the Earth warming as the sun came up.

A breeze was blowing gently from the northwest so today I could hardly smell the odor of the water-treatment facility just a few blocks from where I live. It's an aggressive sort of smell, a combination of unknowable chemicals that hangs in the air, somehow sweet, like artificial fruit. It's now owned by American Water--PA. Council borough sold our water to them about three years ago. We don't own our water; it was bought and now it's sold back to us.

Again this week the water from my tap smells funky, like mildew on oily rags. Sometimes when I drink it, there is a moment when I have to tell myself to swallow because my mouth tells me to spit it out. But the scent and odor are usually very faint and you get used to it. This morning when I boil the water for my coffee I can smell the odor in the kitchen, but boiling seems to get rid of the taste.

I live in northeastern Pennsylvania, just a few miles from Dimock, PA, ground zero for Josh Fox's documentary "Gasland." I know people whose farmland has been destroyed by fracking, whose water is flammable. I know neighbors who don't talk to each other anymore, and families that have been pulled apart due to resentment that one or the other made a much better deal with the oil companies. Some people only got a couple of thousand dollars and others made hundreds of thousands.

There are no fracking pads that I pass on my morning walks, but a short drive in almost any direction will take you past at least one.

I think about what I've learned recently, too late to be of much help, that as of 2015 there were an estimated 1.5 million fracking wells in place in the continental United States, and that each well used an average of 2.8 million gallons of water that was mixed with sand and up to 1,000 different chemicals, about 240 of which are known to be poisonous or toxic. It was then pumped under high pressure into the bedrock, into the aquifer. I walk past a big puddle that forms in the alley behind my house whenever it rains. I stand there this morning, as I have many times before, and watch the puddles percolate from the gas seeping up through the Earth. If you listen closely, they pop with a happy sort of sound.

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Lee Burkett is a proud member of The Screen Actor's Guild and a writer/activist.
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