Sunday, February 27, 2011

Water is Essential -- Gas Drilling is Not

There are alternative sources of energy that don’t require shale drilling or hydrofracking.
There is no alternative for water.

Gas and profits may be inviting to some.
Water is essential to us all.

The amount of freshwater on Earth, in our watershed and in our region, is finite.
And yet the DRBC is proposing, with its draft gas drilling regulations, to give hundreds of billions of gallons of our fresh water to the drillers – not in the form of a temporary use that will eventually return to our water systems – but a permanent taking. 

The damage is from the combination of drilling, hydrofracking and massive land development that combine to rob our watershed and our people of clean fresh water and the healthy habitats we need to thrive.

Only 2.53% of the water on earth is freshwater and so usable for nourishing humans.  Of this, about 2/3 is locked up in glaciers and permanent snow cover. That leaves less than 1% for our use.

Water is often characterized as cyclical or renewable.  But that is absolutely not so when we are talking about horizontal fracturing, hydrofracking and shale gas drilling.
  • Either the drillers are making up to 9 million gallons of water per well (over average 5 million) so toxic we can’t use it again, except for more drilling, and we have made it loose in the environment to pollute other clean waters and healthy environments. 
  • Or they are locking our River’s water under ground, in its toxic condition, never to be available for human or animal use ever again.

 Either way it is untenable and wholly unacceptable.

According to the UN, the world is already facing a water crisis.
“This crisis is one of water governance, [] caused by the ways in which we mismanage water.”

That is exactly what the DRBC is proposing here.
According to the United Nations, 4,400 children under the age of 5 die every day because of polluted water.  And 1 in every 6 humans on this earth have no access to clean water within a kilometer of their homes.
There are many stories of communities denied access to abundant and clean water – children walking miles to fetch water, suffering skin lesions and extreme illness due to water pollution, farmers struggling for the quantity of water they need to grow food for their communities. We are more fortunate than these communities, and yet we are poised to squander our good fortune.
Today our Delaware River is healthy in its upper reaches – because of the hard work of many who cared enough to fight for its protection.  
But the quality of the water is fragile, and our lower reaches already struggle from pollution.
And we already have water battles in our basin.
And yet the DRBC dares put the quality and available quantity of our precious Delaware at risk for drilling.

DRBC does not have the knowledge needed to craft a set of regulations that would protect our water, air, land and communities from shale gas drilling. Not until a scientific and cumulative assessment of the process and its affects has been completed.

We are talking about:
  • Toxic pollution,
  • Sprawling industrial development and waste,
  • Increased flooding from the development,
  • A permanent loss of fresh drinking water,
And more.

And yet the DRBC is inexcusably refusing to secure the needed scientific work before it pushes out its regulations and opens the doors wide for the gas drillers. 

The claim of jobs that the Pennsylvania Governor and the Army Corps cling to doesn’t hold.
Drilling is going to do harm to the billions in economic benefit and the jobs provided by a healthy Delaware River and its healthy, forested watershed. 

And it’s not just the River jobs those who support this drilling are so willing to sacrifice.
It’s also the health and safety of our communities that get sacrificed if this drilling moves forward as is being proposed with the DRBC regulations.

Drilling must not happen, not now, and maybe not ever.  Either way DRBC doesn't have the science or knowledge to know the answers to “if?” or “how”.

UN Source:  United Nations World Water Development Report

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Investment & Care in Roads for Our Cars but Not Water for Our Bodies?

I was headed to the Darby Creek to unstress from a difficult day.

As I walked to the Creek I noticed a number of potholes on the side of the road that will be quickly addressed when the warmer weather comes.

As I stood by the creek appreciating the beauty of the gently flowing waters I saw a bridge being carefully reconstructed to protect it from damage.

And then it hit me -- we invest billions in carefully caring for our roadways to make them easier to drive and to prevent damage to our cars.  We plan for their care, we save for their care, we regulate their use, we invest every year in massive road restoration and reconstruction projects, we charge tolls and taxes to pay for it all.

But when it comes to regulating for, protecting for, paying for the care and restoration of our waterways, the water that we put into our bodies, that we eat fish from, that we swim in and swallow, get way short shrift -- the battles over regulations and investment to protect our waters wage furious.  Much of the time, if not most of the time, those that want to pollute and damage these waters we need to sustain our lives, win.  The drillers, dredgers, dischargers and developers only have to claim the creation of a few jobs -- whether sustainable or not, whether true or not -- and they get to prevent the regulation and restoration sought and needed for the rest of us.

Clean water is not a luxury, it is a necessity.  Without healthy water to sustain us, all the money in the world makes not one wit of difference.

So we need to tell the drillers, dredgers, dischargers and developers - and all the politicians they contribute to -- that our water comes first.

When we protect our water we protect ourselves -- and at the same time we protect jobs, we create jobs, and we ensure a healthy future for ourselves and our children.  We can't afford to put our healthy rivers and waters anywhere on our priority list but at number one, along with our air and forests which are also vital and irreplaceable to our healthy selves, kids and future.

When it comes down to it:
When We Best Protect our River -- We Best Protect Ourselves!