We’re All Getting Fracked.

I have an op-ed in The New York Times today that I hope you will all read when you can. It’s about an issue that is now dear to my heart: a pipeline for natural gas is barreling through my home county, Lancaster, Pa.

You can read the op-ed here.

A special thanks to Jessica Lustig, Kiera Feldman and my entire writing group, and all the friends and strangers who have taken the time to read, share and comment.

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  1. The Times had a piece a day or so before about people in Mass also trying to stop a pipeline from being built on their land. If you would publish more info about groups working to stop this in your hometown, I would sign a petition, etc. I plan to write my senators in my home state of Calif to encourage them to help your efforts in Penn bec the same things will happen here.

  2. If this is all true than Texas and Oklahoma are COMMERCIAL STATES no private landowners. This pipeline doesn’t consist of Fracking. Now the steps getting it to the pipeline does. As far as the insurance companies raising your rates, I’ve never heard of that and have even ask my holder if this is possible. The pipeline companies are very wear of their side for the liability portion. 90% of all pipeline infractions are by 3rd parties not calling before they dig.
    I guess you really need to look further into this project to see how it benefits the area and the local economy. I get your concern about the trees and water and that’s great, we all are. But I’m sure there are people (EPA) watching this Williams company that will make sure things go right.
    But then again you sound like the same people that walk up to your light switch and expect the lights to come on. You have NO IDEA how they come on, but it better work. Try to understand what is going on before hand and keep an open mind. Texas and Oklahoma have been sending natural gas north, east, and west for decades.

    Good luck with it all

  3. Dear Ann,

    Having read your NYT Op-Ed I recommend to you the presentation
    on Alturnative Radio by the community activist Paul Cienfuegos titled “Community Rights” which challenge
    corporations at their core. Going through proper channels is not enough.
    I wish you luck & long preserved land,

  4. Any owner of open lands in Lancaster or Chester Counties, observing this process, will think long and hard before attempting to “preserve” beloved lands. The fact is, if this is allowed to happen, such landowners would be smarter to sell to a residential developer soon. Land with houses on it is much less likely to find itself on the pathway of a future pipeline. If conservation easements and other arrangements for land preservation are violated in this way, it will be the death knell for future land preservation in this area.

    1. Hi redcedar,

      New development homes have their own sustainability problem; our zoning laws are antiquated and wasteful. Think of how many housing bubbles we’ve had in the past few decades, how lack of population density is already gobbling up land. Preservation is the right way to save land. The problem is how we’re thinking about natural gas. It is not progress, clean energy, the return of America to the top. Even jobs claim are inflated and temporary. Cheaper gas is not better gas: it’s a ruse to prevent us from thinking anew about conservation and sustainable energy development. We need to see the promises of natural gas, sold to us hard and heavy by the industry itself, as a destructive false frame. One that is profitable for these corporations at the expense of all of us.

      So you’re with the Chester County Commissioners?

      Thanks for writing, Ann

  5. I appreciate your efforts and am fighting the pipeline scheduled to go through South Royalston next to historic Royalston where I live. We need renewables nation wide. In brief we need to stop producing Fracked Natural Gas (FNG) and switch to Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) made from organic waste (think “Garbage into Gold”).

    We need Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) and not FNG for these reasons:
    1. Developing RNG doesn’t require any fracking.
    2. The manufacture of RNG doesn’t cause earthquakes.
    3. Making RNG doesn’t use billions of gallons of water thereby depleting the nation’s water table.
    4. The process of making RNG from organic waste doesn’t take water from deep in the earth and it will not poison our water supply.
    5. RNG is the greenest, least polluting fuel known today.
    6. RNG is created from an endless, always renewable supply of organic waste vs FNG which comes from wells that must be capped after gas is removed In other words, RNG is endlessly renewable.
    RNG is already being made from organic waste and used to fuel trucks so that no diesel is needed and the companies making RNG are making a profit in these places: Sacramento, CA; SEAPAC Seattle airport; Altamont Landfill near LA, Clean Energy’s operations in TX, Cow Power in VT, and more.
    DOE supports the development of RNG and supports Energy-Vision.org.
    For more on RNG see the energy-vision.org website and contact Joanna Underwood at underwood@energy-vision.org or Matt Tomich at tomich@energy-vision.org
    1 (212) 254-5777.
    Please look into RNG and help save your family’s land and the planet.
    Leslie F., Royalston, MA

    1. Thanks for writing, Leslie. I’ve never heard of renewable natural gas. And I doubt there’s one way to fight fracked gas and its pipelines. Good luck with your business.

    2. I had heard of RNG before and knew of its limited use in some circumstances. But I did not realize the extent to which it is already being used. I agree that it offers great potential, as long as leaks are kept to a bare minimum. This is because methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide: 22 times more from what I have read elsewhere. Ie, whatever benefits RNG offers over conventional fossil fuels are neutralized if there is more than a 3-4% rate of leakage into the atmosphere.

      Most companies producing nat gas underestimate the extent of these leaks, if they disclose such info at all. These leaks can be greatly reduced via the use of better, more modern equipment and/or maintenance of pipelines. But it costs MONEY to do this. And the companies do not want to cut into their profit margins, of course!

        1. Unlike many/most blog related threads this one has been particularly informative and, thus, interesting. THANKS to you for your NY Times piece and for your blog on which you started the process!

  6. Your NYT piece and your sister’s experience with a company attempting to build a pipeline is strikingly similar to my family’s experience. My parents have a 33-acre farm in northeastern Utah, on the western edge of a valley. Most of their land is meadow and, summer nesting home to sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans. It is also the land where I grew up, spending most summer days in the creek that meanders through the property. In our situation, Tesoro, Inc. is proposing to build a 135-mile high-pressure, heated pipeline to transport waxy crude oil that it extracts to a refinery in Salt Lake City, Utah. During the “public comment” period, Tesoro shared information about the proposed pipeline, but did not share maps of the specific route they were proposing until after the public comment period had ended. Now we know the specific route would cut through not just my parent’s land, but through the entire valley. What my parents have since discovered is that an aquifer sits below most of the valley, with the water in a bed of silt and loose rock. The proposed pipeline would sit right in the aquifer and any leak would threaten not just the aquifer, but any of the rivers that feed into and out of it. About 1/3 of the state depends on water coming from the valley. Just as you wrote about in Pennsylvania, landowners in the valley have joined together to fight the pipeline, not only due to concerns about their own property, but with concerns about the water supply. The county has attempted to write land use ordinances that would hopefully limit where a pipeline could be built within the county, however Tesoro has filed a complaint, in federal district court, claiming the county has violated their rights. We remain hopeful that we will be able to sucessfully fight the pipeline, and that is why I was so appreciative of your NYT piece. I hope that increasing attention will come to the use of eminent domain by private companies. To me it is a gross misuse of the law and must be corrected. May we all be successful in not just protecting our beautiful places, but preserving the rights of citizens to be involved in the decisions that affect everyone’s well-being.

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