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Famous Musician Weighs In On Hydraulic Fracking

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New York, NYWhile the merits and risks of hydraulic fracturing water contaminationhave been debated for years by proponents from both sides of the contentious issue, a new voice has entered the fray: Sean Lennon, the musician son of Yoko Ono and the late John Lennon. Writing in an op-ed (opinion / editorial) piece in the New York Times last month, Lennon mourned recent efforts by hydraulic fracking companies to invade land near a farm his parents purchased when Sean was an infant. The Lennons were intent on living off the land, to secure a slower, more natural and traditional upbringing for their son.

Today, the Lennon farm and hundreds, if not thousands of acres around it on the northern tip of Delaware County in New York state appear threatened by an effort from fracking companies to permeate their lands with drilling rigs and wells required to release trapped stores of natural gas from beneath the ground.

Various pockets of the US are home to American landowners who allege fracking contamination. You Tube is awash with images of people turning on their kitchen taps and lighting the water on fire with a blowtorch, or Bic lighter. Gasland, a documentary nominated for an Academy Award two years ago, was born from a particularly keen offer from a corporation to allow fracking on the director's land. Rather than accept the offer, Joshua Fox looked into the issue and—disturbed by his findings—decided to make a film.

There are even allegations that EPA hydraulic fracking—the official position of the Environmental Protection Agency on the issue—is somewhat suspect, according to at least one EPA employee who appeared in the Gasland documentary and shared personal concerns that appeared to be at odds with official EPA pronouncements.

Even as various hydraulic fracturing contamination lawsuits continue to percolate, Lennon has entered the fray. Writing in the New York Times (8/27/12), Lennon noted that an invitation to attend a Town Hall hosted by hydrofracking proponents who didn't appear to care much what the townsfolk and homeowners thought, left him with questions that spurred him to conduct his own research into the issue. To wit, what he wanted to find for himself was the answer to the question, 'what is fracking?'

What Lennon found was upsetting to him. He wrote that industry studies, which he didn't identify, claimed that five percent of fracking wells could leak immediately, with 60 percent having the potential to leak methane gas and toxic chemicals over 30 years.

Lennon referenced more than 600 toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracking process that could leach into drinking water, causing contamination. Dr. Theo Colborn, a noted doctor and environmentalist interviewed for the Gasland documentary, had identified 596 hydraulic fracturing chemicals not put off limits by proprietary protections, in 900 chemical products historically used in the hydrofracking process.

Various lawsuits brought by plaintiffs alleging well and water contamination from water fracking, also allege grievous health issues. But Lennon, whose land appears threatened by the potential for hydraulic fracturing and the apparent willingness by city, state and federal authorities to allow fracking if done safely (critics say it can't be done safely), paints a wider swath of concern…

"The well water on my family's farm comes from the same watersheds that supply all the reservoirs in New York State," Lennon writes. "That means if our tap water gets dirty, so does New York City's."

In the meantime, lawsuits continue. Some allege negligence on behalf of gas companies where methane gas and / or toxic chemicals are allowed to leach into drinking water supplies—when cement collars break down, for example. Many of these allege health issues. Other lawsuits allege damage to land, ruining environmental aesthetics and sapping the property values. Still others allege breaches in leases fracking companies have with landowners.

At the end of the day, however, is the difference between the value and potential profits promised from hydraulic fracking, v. the cost of settlements. One news report referenced a settlement between Chesapeake Energy and a group of landowners in Pennsylvania who claimed their drinking water was contaminated. The settlement was worth a reported $1.6 million. However Chesapeake Energy admitted no wrongdoing.

In early August, Chesapeake Energy admitted it was the target of an investigation by the US Department of Justice for possible violations of antitrust laws.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
Why are all these articles slant solely one way, give no sources or citations? A good writer informs the public, gives both sides of an argument and the reader makes their own conclusions. Now I understand the things that go wrong, I seen it happen, and usually the well is plugged to prevent contamination. Also no one bothers to research as to why they failed. Usually there's a reason why, and my uncles brothers cousin said it blew up don't mean it did... I work in the oilfield and proud of it!

Posted by

on
I have a well on my property that was fracked into(i have video of it flowing a huge fountain while it was "shut in") and the company claims that fracking into other peoples wells happens "all the time" and I contacted the RRC here and they were very supportive and took the claims seriously. The lady "wendy dalton" at eog was very threatening on the phone to me and told me that there was no laws broken, no risk to anyone or their water and that it happens all the time. After the rrc contacted her, they wrote off the case..quoted exactly what she had said and said that the lawyers for eog tell them "no laws have been broken and it happens all the time". Before the rrc talked to them, they were telling me how serious this was and how many laws were being broken. Now even the rail road commission is scared of them and wont do anything to stop them.

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