There is an unprecedented poisoning of American farmland underway in Pennsylvania and 33 other states in America where underground horizontal gas fracture extraction (called hydraulic fracturing) is taking place. The technique is graphically illustrated in this short trailer for a recent film by Josh Fox called Gasland which reveals in a series of interviews and vignettes, the rude awakening in store for trusting farmers and rural land owners who had accepted the assurance of smooth talking company representatives from energy giants like Dick Cheney's Haliburton that leasing their land for its mineral rights would cause no disturbance to the beauty and serenity of their farming habitat, yet bring in a lucrative monthly royalty check or windfall up-front leasing pay-out. For low and moderate income rural land owners, the money seemed like a dream come true.
For many, however, the dream turned into a nightmare when they began to notice things after drilling contractors moved in. Inexplicably, some of their farm animals would die and they had no idea why. Fish ponds were turning to an unnatural rusty color and the fish would die. Their kids were getting headaches and had odd symptoms of numbness or dizziness at home, yet they would feel OK at school; only to get a headache again once when they got back home.
They were suffering symptoms of neuro-toxic poisoning, but no one from the oil companies had warned them of that possibility and the company rep would adamantly deny that the underground drilling and gas fracturing played a role in any of it. The drilling technology and extraction technology were "completely safe" they were repeatedly assured.
Tell that to Ron Gulla who has a 140 acre farm in Hickory, Pennsylvania. I found some of his interviews on YouTube posted by an activist group called damascuscitizens.org and talked to him on the phone today for a couple of hours. He leased his property in 2005 to an energy company and thought they were going to vertically drill for "dry" methane gas pockets. They didn't tell him about the horizontal gas fracture drilling process until after the lease was signed and then it was too late. "They just took over" he said. It didn't matter what Ron told them or what he complained about: The company contractors who drove up from Texas or Oklahoma "just did whatever they wanted to do. They have no respect for the land and no respect for the land owners" he lamented. The company set up four well platforms on his land and extracted gas from 2005 to 2007. His frustration with the indifference shown by drilling companies is characteristic of local reaction to the enormous environmental damage that is being inflicted on the entire farming ecosystem. His resentment is evident in this short video when he tells the interviewer that "The land is raped. The land will never be the same. That's the bottom line".
Ron says that Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and even gubernatorial candidates from other parties are totally in bed with the oil interests and are doing nothing to help land owners resist the coercion and intimidation foisted upon them by powerful energy interests who don't want to take "no" for an answer. He says the DEP (Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection) is a joke. It behaves more like a PR firm for Big OIl and stonewalls environmental activists, while paying hollow lip service to land owner complaints. He claims the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), who suppose to oversee the drilling industry, is even worse. "They act more like oil company stockholders, rather than regulators" he fumes
If the oil companies can't get farmers to sign a lease willingly, they use their bought & paid-for government stooges to invoke the law of "eminent domain" and force a sale whether the land owner likes it or not. This recently happened in Bedford county, Pennsylvania; where the abuse of eminent domain by government officials (who are clearly in bed with the oil industry) has risen to a new plateau of naked skullduggery:
The hydraulic fracturing process involves the high pressure injection of millions of gallons of water mixed with a toxic witches' brew of undisclosed chemicals and sand to accommodate the fracturing and release of gas from the shale beds. That precious water is taken from rivers, lakes, and water resources intended for public benefit, and not to enrich the coffers of international energy companies who are engaging in a frenzied feast to plunder America's mineral resources, in much the same way they have plundered the mineral resources of indigenous people in South America, Central America, and Africa. The story is always the same. They rape, they plunder, and then leave their mess behind for the locals to deal with.
Contamination & Dumping
Ron Gulla told me that only 30 % of the fracturing fluid is recovered and supposedly processed, while 70 % REMAINS in the ground. The recovered fluid is supposed to be hauled off to processing centers, but locals have repeatedly caught company truckers DUMPING the recovered fracturing fluid on local roads, in forested areas, and even dumping it down abandoned mine shafts. To deceive the public, some trucks have "Clean Water" printed on the side.
Naturally, petroleum gases released by fracturing, liquids and the fracturing fluid itself is mixing with ground water and even percolating up through fissures into the surface environment. Initially, energy company representatives had told land owners that they were only adding three benign chemicals and sand to the fracturing fluid, but environmental activists soon discovered that there could be as many as 584 different chemicals used in the fracturing fluid mix. The energy companies involved in the gas fracturing steadfastly refuse to divulge to anybody the chemical makeup of the fracturing fluid and government regulators simply won't intervene on the public's behalf and force disclosure.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 rammed through congress by the Bush/Cheney team exempts gas fracturing energy companies from any liability for environmental damage or injury that may result from the use of fracturing fluids. Therefore, the hard-fought federal legislation designed to protect the public interest and health, such as the Clean Water Act of 1977 and the Water Quality Act of 1987 are now null and void, and meaningless when it when it comes to gas fracture extraction. Here's a quote from Wikipedia's description of the 2005 Energy Policy Act:
"This bill exempted fluids used in the natural gas extraction process of Hydraulic fracturing from protections under the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, and CERCLA. The proposed Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act would repeal these exemptions."
Ron Gulla tells the story as well as anyone in the following four video clips that are now posted to YouTube. They were part of a video documentary made a couple of years ago by damacuscitizens.org to try to bring to greater public awareness the horrendous destruction of farmland that has been ripping through vast regions of Pennsylvania like a rampaging bull. This madness must stop. New York recently passed a one year moratorium to halt all drilling activity until environmental impact studies can be made and reassess the wisdom of continuing this insane juggernaut.
Pennsylvania state Senator Jim Ferlo has sponsored Pennsylvania Senate bill 1447 which calls for a moratorium on all natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale deposit, which runs through most of Pennsylvania. Currently, the greatest destruction in the Northeast is taking place in Pennsylvania, but Ohio is being prepared for the slaughter. Hopefully, enough activists in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia will rally enough local support among farm land owners and state residents alike, to prevent even more rural owners from buying into the same deception and lies that already befell Pennsylvania farmers .
There is much more to this story than the brief outline presented here. I plan to add additional interviews and articles to this page and perhaps extend it out to two or three parts. In the meantime, Ron Gulla suggested seeing Gasland * which has been available on HBO and can now be seen in movie theaters across the country as of Sep. 15, 2010, according to film maker Josh Fox. I'm hoping Josh will make it available as a DVD purchase sooner, rather than later. Another DVD that Ron recommended seeing is Split Estate, produced by Debra Anderson (who just won an Emmy in New York) and narrated by actress Ali McGraw.
Bob Donnan also has a good web site that covers the assault on the Marcellus Shale very well (http://marcellus-shale.us/)
There are still farms in Pennsylvania, such as the bucolic and peaceful little town (318 people) of Le Raysville in Bradford county where locals are being readied for the slaughter and are being schmoozed with the same money bait and safety promises that had already sucked in so many trusting souls. I hope someone can get to them in time and turn them around before they make the same dreadful mistake that Ron Gulla and others came to bitterly regret. (If anyone reading this essay lives in that area or any parts of Pennsylvania who can help or wants to help, please call me or write )
*(Gasland won a special jury award at the Sundance Film Festival this year and was characterized by Robert Koehler of Variety as “one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years… "Gasland" may become to the dangers of natural gas drilling what "Silent Spring" was to DDT.”)
Comments (the most recent letter is posted at the top)
Subject: Marcellus Shale in Drilling in Susquehanna Co Pa
Date: Thu, September 30, 2010
To: Ken Adachi
My husband and I are just totally heartbroken with the lease signing on our family
farm. It's out of our hands, out of our control. Our family owns a 139 acre farm in
Susquehanna county Pa. Our Grandparents borrowed money from my parents 35 yrs ago to
purchased the farm as a summer retreat from their Florida home. Our entire family
has enjoyed summering in the mountains with the Snowbird Grandparents for many years
and this all came to an abrupt halt two years ago. When my Aunt convinced the
Grandparents that they should hop on the big money from Alta Gas leases. Back in
1996 the Grandparents (now in their 90's) gave the farm to their four children, my
mother being one of the children. We had enjoyed the farm for years as a natural
environment free from the spoils of the world; just nature at its finest. Two of
my uncles live in the Hamptons, my parents in NJ, and my aunt lives in Susquehanna Co
Pa. where she and her husband own over 200 acres and a stone quarry.
The Aunt and her husband were the first to sign the leases. Then the calls started
pouring in from her to all the family members. We were invited to a large BBQ
hosted by Atla, and all the neighbors they were trying to convince to sign with Atla
instead of Cabot. My Aunt was so excited to be a big part of this push for the
lease signing because according to her, she and her husband had met some of the
owners of Atla and they landed their "helicopter right on her property"... just to
come and say hello to them personally.
I'm sorry, but it takes a whole lot more
than a helicopter landing to impress me! As she continued with even more details
of the plans from Atla owners, who, according to my Aunt are Enron people, they
wanted to talk politics and seeing how my Uncle -in-Law is a long time resident,
they think he should be running for some political office in the area especially
since he rounded up all these people to sign the lease with Atla and they promised
him that they would be drilling on his property first.... which they have already
done and are now working on drilling the second well except this one they will be
drilling 1 mile deep!
The upsetting issue here for me is on our family farm is a very large Indian burial
site. The farm is the highest peak in Susquehanna County, there are fresh springs
pouring down from the mountain top and all these people suffering from Jed Clampett
syndrome can't see the big picture of how this land and the natural springs are
being effected by these rapist. It's amazing how over the past 10 years very few of
our cousins ever visited the farm, but now they're showing up, even my brother who
has shown no interest in the farm for 15 yrs. They all think the money is going to
come pouring in from these gas wells and their parents are going to be rich! They
went from being simply country folks to arrogant people having money in their
pockets over night and have lost sight of how important our pristine waters dictates
the quality of life.
My husband and I are so upset over these issues, because now that the lease is
signed nothing can be done about it until the lease is up in 5 years. We are so
upset that this past July we traveled to Maine and purchased 60 acres there to get
away from the madness. We had hoped to retire and build a cabin on the farm one
day, but not now. I'm sorry if I'm venting, I've protested, written letters, hired
an attorney and still nothing seems to stop these bastards. Well, I just have one
suggestion for the legislators and maybe you'd like to give this some thought
too...Why not make the land owners just as liable for any environmental damage caused
by the drilling companies and for the cleanup process? Possibly forfeit their land
to the state in the event of a drilling disaster? I'm sure that this would slow
down the lease signing business!!!
Subject: PA Drilling
Date: Wed, September 29, 2010
To: Ken Adachi
Hello Mr. Adachi,
Thank you for your recent posting regarding the nascent "development"
(exploitation?) of the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania. My name is
Bill, and I am a long time reader of your website and a Pennsylvania native. It
was through your site I first became aware of the chemtrail operations in 2003, and
I have since installed a chembuster in my county, and gifted several towers in
north central PA. I recently took up employment with a solids control company that
facilitates the solidification of gas rig drilling cuttings through the use of
lime, sawdust, even cow manure, in order to dry them out, so they can be stored at
This industry is very new to my friends and neighbors in the
area, and we all share a concern in keeping the landscape pristine and enjoyable
for generations to come. The strip mining that took place in Eastern PA during the
anthracite coal boom days has absolutely ruined the natural water ways and
landscapes, and caused fish-kills to damage the local ecosystems, so we all carry
that memory with us, and are very leery about these smooth talking lease
acquisition agents who offer money for the mineral rights around here without
really knowing the full extent of their total activities. Everyone out here has
their specialized, compartmentalized job to do, so it's very hard to get a complete
picture of the entire drilling operation from start to finish, without being
employed as a "company man" on site for one of these energy firms.
I'm not from Texas or Oklahoma with a lifetime of experience in this field, so I
take a different view on the operations around here than most who work on the"patch".
The fact that these operations are spreading south from Bradford county
(where I now work.. Towanda is the bulls eye for this whole formation) towards my
home, are a cause for concern. Taking up this job has allowed me access to the
these different sites that not too many local people would have
otherwise,(sometimes the security guard shack for sign ins is a mile or two away
from the well pad, No one may trespass beyond unless they're working there). So,
if there are specific questions you can think of, or particular concerns other
readers have, let me be your eyes and ears out here!
Some observations; good, bad ,and neutral I have seen on just the two well pads I
have been on in the past 2 months:
1. The company men on site have many safeguards in place to prevent any accidental
spills on the the surface level. Barriers must be rolled out to catch any and all
diesel fuel that may spill on the ground during refueling operations. One time,
back-pressure from the well caused half a barrel of drilling mud to shoot out a
flare-off gas vent onto the gravel. Pictures were taken, and immediately sent to
their HQ, where a reconfiguration of the pipe was recommended, and some field hands
came out and shoveled the earth down to the level of seepage to clean the site. And
then a plastic lined isolation barrier was installed.
I was told things like this
would never happen in South America, or even Pecos, TX where they really don't care
what lands on the ground. This in and of itself was a good course of action to
take, given the circumstances. Also, all well pads are almost completely lined
with heavy mil plastic liner. as soon as holes are seen, they are patched, and many
berms are installed to localize and contain small spills as much as possible.
2. The wells usually go down 9,000-11,000 feet below surface. I've seen them run"intermediate casing" halfway down as a means to separate the formations from cross
contamination. This is new for Pennsylvania, because of everyone's concern for the
water table (which at the moment, is about as perfect as you can find in the
country, in my opinion). I'm in no position to gauge its effectiveness, but it
sounds like a science experiment, like dumping a bunch of Cor-exit in the Gulf and
crossing your fingers.
3. The last well to go to its total depth missed the pay-zone completely. The
directional drillers must not know what they're doing, or the geologists can't give
them a complete picture of what's going on down there. Again, sounds like leaving a
major part of the operation to chance.
4. The chemicals they use are often horrendous. When they first start, or "spud" a
well, often they are using air, or just fresh water, as a medium. But as the depths
increase, the water doesn't hold pressure enough to maintain the well-bore
integrity, and so they must "mud up" the water to a higher weight to keep it from
collapsing. Fresh water weighs 8.333 pounds per gallon (ppg) but to maintain wall
cake and annulus support, often they will increase the density of the drilling
fluid. How do they do this you may ask?
5. Barium sulfate is the main chemical. Bayrite (BaSO4) as it's called, comes to the
site in large, heavy, nondescript sacks that are moved to the mud tanks with
forklift tongs, cut open, and dumped into the tanks to mix with the water to weigh
it down. Sometimes they switch to a mineral oil or diesel fuel base instead of
water, and then dump barite in. This can raise the weight to 14 ppg or more,
depending on the total depth and formation pressure. Where do all these sacks come
from on such short notice to all these well-pads ? I wouldn't doubt they teleported
this garbage from the moon, too! I will ask the next truck driver where he goes to
pick this stuff up tomorrow.
6. In two weeks I've made two trips to the emergency room for contact dermatitis and
a foot infection with symptoms of gout. Quite a shock to be told you've got a
flare-up of drunken old man foot disease in your late twenties! This has to be a
direct result from these drilling fluids. No one wants to post a proper MSDS [Material Safety Data Sheet] sheet
for any of it anywhere around here. Just suck it up, Buttercup. If Old Rashy can't
handle it, then go get an office job! Another guy out here went to the doctors the
other day for a lancing of two lesions on his abdomen and leg. One doctor said it
was a spider-bite, another said it was a staph infection. No one can agree what it
may be, since these types of symptoms are new to the doctors in the area. Sounds
like a bad day nonetheless when you have green, stinky fluids draining from lumps on
your skin. Another fellas leg swelled up and when it was all said and done he was
diagnosed with MRSA Multible Resistant Staph Aureus]!
7. Sadly, this money they pay is just enough to make you forget about the short and
long term health ramifications for sure. This area of the state is pretty
economically depressed, and with so many different fingers in the pie on these
sites, many, many contractors are kept busy and making a boatload of money for the
various services they provide in all levels of the operations out here. If a guy
wants to throw it all away for the almighty dollar, after a little specialized
training, a 6 figure income his first year is entirely possible. This is unheard of
here, and of course, very attractive. Maybe if we can get some oomph behind devices
such as John Searl's (http://www.searlsolution.com/) we can halt this nonsense
sooner rather than later.
Again, thank you for the site you are providing to people. I'm reading more about
this subject and watching more videos all the time from the links you have provided
thus far, and am glad you are committing more study and commentary to it in the near
future. Don't hesitate to contact me with further questions and concerns, I will
try to convey what I observe out here as accurately as I can. Feel free to contact
me but do not disclose my e-mail address to your website.
All information posted on this web site is
the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only.
It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor
can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer
of your choice for medical care and advice.