#1 Party School = #1 Fracking School

The same school whom This American Life deemed the nation’s #1 party school has just been labeled, by the same radio program, the #1 fracking school.

The episode, Game Changer, shows how Penn State University promoted the work of the professor who discovered the Marcellus Shale’s huge natural gas reserve, while ignoring the work of another professor at the University of Pittsburgh who figured out how much toxic stuff ends up in our water at the hands of hydraulic fracking.

A great look at how this whole mess got started, including some surprising links between government, corporations, academia and the donors who support them.

PA: It’s time to switch to bottled water

‘Cause, ya know, the tap might be radioactive. According to a bunch of EPA documents the  Times dug up:

The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.

But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity. And most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania, with the blessing of regulators, have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008.

Read the article, buy bottled water and take action.

Gasland Documentary

We watched Gasland last night, a film about natural gas drilling with a big focus on the industry in PA. I think documentaries are a crappy way to learn about a topic unless you already have strong background knowledge of the topic, or if the documentary is semi-unserious and apolitical. There’s just too much a director can leave out, and a ton of nuance that gets lost for the sake of entertainment.

That said: Gasland seemed like a fairly even-handed attempt. There was a lot of flaming faucets, brain damage and cases of environmental destruction. The scary part is that no one seems to give a crap about natural gas drilling in PA. There isn’t sufficient regulation, oversight or taxation in place. There’s a huge natural resource below the ground of a handful of Mideastern states—which philosophically, belongs to all of us—and it’s being extracted with little regard for the environment or the people who suffer the consequences of drilling on their land.

See also: What the Frack!

What the Frack!

This is depressing news:

Thousands of gallons of contaminated water used to extract natural gas have spilled out of a well in North Central Pennsylvania. Environmental officials continue to investigate the cause of the spill which has polluted ground water in Lycoming County.

The 13,000 gallons of  “frack fluid” contain high levels of salt and an unknown amount of toxic chemicals.

Pennsylvania is completely unprepared to deal with natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale. We don’t have the proper oversight or taxes in place to ensure these companies don’t ruin the environment (with a special shout out to our drinking water) while ripping off our neighbors.

It’s time for a moratorium until these questions are answered.

For more information on this hugely important development that will effect us in PA NJ and DE, check out WHYY’s Shale Game series and the Gasland documentary.