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Fracking and Farming: Not a Good Combo

By · Friday, April 20th, 2012

I spent last night at a Food & Sustainability expo in a nearby town. I brought my composting worms with me for a kid friendly demo, one of my pals brought herbeekeeping equipment, there were also local farmers and environmental organizations supporting clean food, water and land.

The keynote speaker was an upstate farmer- an inspiring story of a college teacher who took the leap, quit his “day job” and is now growing food for hundreds of families in a CSA format. I love to hear stories like this, but that was where the happy story ended. In addition to farming, this fellow and many many others are devoting huge amounts of time and energy to fight fracking in NY state.

His slide show shifted from bucolic photos of trees and farmland to ariel photos showing the annihilation of forest and farmland in nearby Pennsylvania. I had a chance to see the destruction that fracking creates first hand when I spent two summers working in a camp in Bradford County, PA, which is now the epicenter of fracking in this part of the country. I’ve kept my eye on the many accidents small and large that have happened in this county since I was last there in the summer of 2010.

Sadly, it looks like fracking will be coming to upstate NY in the not too distant future. Our governor is not a fractivist by any means. He and many others are enticed by the alleged economic benefits, aka “jobs”, with out considering what’s at stake- clean safe water.

As the farmer showed slide after slide of drilling rigs and containment ponds, a sense of hopelessness and despair enveloped the audience. PS you can see some of these photos on environmental artist, J Henry Fair’s site, click here. His book, The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis,  sits prominently on my coffee table for everyone to see.

Because I’ve known about fracking for a few years now, I’ve done all the advocacy/ activsm stuff. I’ve called Governor Cuomo, his # is in my speed dial, to remind him that fracking is not safe. I’ve signed petitions, written a million fracking letters, and I’ve watched GASLAND more than once.  Quite frankly, I don’t know if any of it can make a damn bit of difference.

I don’t know what WILL make the difference. How many people need to know about fracking, home many people need to CARE enough before we hit the tipping point? Are letters, petitions and phone calls enough?  Should we be showing up en masse, physically blocking gas drilling rigs? Or will that just get us put in jail and labeled as an eco-terrorist?  Actually you might be labeled an eco-terrorist without doing anything overly radical, the Washington Post reports that the FBI has increased heavy surveillance of environmentalists including anti-fracking protesters.

Fracking and Farming do not mix

I learned this morning that President Obama has issued an executive order forming an “unconventional gas interagency working group”. Since the American Petroleum Institute is applauding his actions, I can only assume that this move will benefit the petroleum industry and not people who care about clean water.  This turn of events is frightful beyond belief.

When it comes down to it, everyone cares about clean water, many of them just don’t know it yet. Once their clean water is gone or once a family member has a health crisis due to contaminated water, they often wake up to how important clean water is.

By the time enough people wake up, will it be too late?

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