According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fresh Water Preservation vs Fracking for Natural Gas in NE America

Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation: Fishermen, Hunters Take On Fracking
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/25/sportsmen-alliance-for-marcellus-conservation-fracking_n_884589.html

By KEVIN BEGOS
posted 06/25/11

Sportsmen Alliance For Marcellus Conservation

WHITELEY, Pa. -- Fishermen are gearing up and hunters are taking aim – for Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

A new coalition of outdoors groups is emerging as a potent force in the debate over natural gas drilling. The Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation isn't against the process of fracking for gas, but its members want to make sure the rush to cash in on the valuable resource doesn't damage streams, forests, and the various creatures that call those places home.

The movement grew out of grass-roots anger as passionate outdoorsmen found their questions about drilling and wildlife brought few answers from local or state officials.

"Either we didn't get a response or the answer we got didn't seem feasible or acceptable. It didn't seem like the people who were in charge had their pulse on what was actually happening," said Ken Dufalla of Clarksville, Pa.

Energy companies have identified major reserves of natural gas throughout the Marcellus Shale, which underlies much of New York and Pennsylvania, and parts of Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia.

More than 3,300 wells have been drilled across Pennsylvania in just the last few years. The boom has raised concerns about the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a drilling technique in which water, sand and a small amount of chemicals are used to open gas-bearing shale formations deep underground.

Already, preliminary water testing by sportsmen is showing consistently high levels of bromides and total dissolved solids in some streams near fracking operations, Dufalla said. Bromide is a salt that reacts with the chlorine disinfectants used by drinking water systems and creates trihalomethanes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says trihalomethanes can be harmful to people who drink water with elevated levels for many years.

Dufalla stands alongside Whiteley Creek, a little mountain stream in Greene County. But something is wrong. The grass is lush and the woods are green, but the water is cloudy and dead-looking.

"It used to be a nice stream," teeming with minnows, crawfish and other aquatic life, he told The Associated Press. No more, said Dufalla, a former deputy game and fish warden for Pennsylvania.
He's worried that nearby gas drilling has damaged the creek, either from improper discharges of waters used in fracking, or from extensive withdrawals of water. The drilling industry says numerous studies have shown fracking is environmentally safe, but Dufalla and other sportsmen want to be sure.

The goal is to build a water quality database that identifies problem areas and makes that information available to the public. Currently, there's little scientific information about whether or how much fracking water impacts wildlife.

Numbers suggest that many people share Dufalla's concerns, in Pennsylvania and throughout the region. Two years ago his local chapter of the Izaak Walton League (a fishing group) had 19 members. Today there are 111.

More than half a dozen existing outdoors groups are part of the Sportsmen Alliance, and collectively they have more than 60,000 members in the states that overlay the Marcellus. Numbers like that mean there's an established grapevine to reach sportsmen and women, and the ties to national groups bring access to experts and funding.

Members of the Sportsmen Alliance are scheduled to meet in July with Michael Krancer, the new secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said Katy Dunlap, a spokeswoman for Trout Unlimited, a national fishing group based in Arlington, Va.

"We are making specific requests with regards to Wilderness trout waters in Pennsylvania," Dunlap said, such as additional review of proposed wells near such waters.

Some areas may be too environmentally sensitive for drilling, and the Sportsmen Alliance is building a list of places that need special protection, Dunlap said. "Places that once you destroy, you can't take back," she said.

Whether the drilling industry would accept additional limits in some areas remains to be seen. So many wildlife lovers have expressed concern over drilling that the Sportsmen Alliance has moved beyond relying on volunteers.

Earlier this year Dave Sewak began working full-time across Pennsylvania, giving educational talks and training a network of volunteer water testers. "We support the energy development; we just want to see it done right the first time. I think hunters and fishermen are the original environmentalists," said Sewak, a Windber, Pa. resident. He's paid by Trout Unlimited.

There has been considerable public debate over how and if fracking impacts drinking water supplies, but Dufalla and other sportsmen are worried that even low concentrations of fracking chemicals may affect aquatic invertebrates – the tiny water bugs that grow into mayflies and stoneflies, which are in turn eaten by fish and birds.

The sportsmen worry that a stream without bugs could quickly become a stream without fish, and then a valley with fewer birds, and so on up the food chain.

There are signs that both the drilling industry and sportsmen are trying to find common ground. Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a drilling industry business group, told the AP his group has already met with numerous outdoors groups.

"It's a relationship that we're building," he said. They're also working with local groups on a set of "best management practices."

Some pro-drilling outdoorsmen said that's exactly the area that needs work.

Ed Gaw leased drilling rights to a five-acre tract of his 140-acre farm in Evans City, Pa., to the T.W. Phillips Co. and fracking began in the spring of 2009. The next year the drillers did what they considered to be a basic restoration.

"Their idea of reclaiming a site and mine were kind of night and day," said Gaw, who knew when he signed the lease that the landscape would never look as it had before.

But Gaw didn't just complain. He got to work, investing about $20,000 in a restoration that included planting hundreds of spruce and fruit trees. Now there are more deer on the property than before drilling began, he said.

But no one wanted to talk about restoration in the beginning. Gaw remembers telling the drilling company that a beautiful restoration would be in their long-term interest too, but they didn't see the point. "I'm going [to] take you guys kicking and screaming into this model recovery," he recalls saying.

He was right.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission sponsored a field day on the issue of reclamation at the Gaw Farm, which is about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. At the time state officials echoed some of Gaw's concerns.

"Landowners have received a wealth of information across the state on leasing, but little attention has been paid to reclamation and habitat recovery," said Tim Hoppe, Northwest Region Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Game Commission.

Part of the challenge for outdoorsmen and industry is that there isn't much scientific information on how or if fracking impacts wildlife in the Marcellus Shale region.

University of Pennsylvania biologist Margaret Brittingham is just starting such a project, with support from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The study will look at how drilling changes the forest habitat, and how it could impact wildlife. But it will be a few years before results are in, and that's just one study.

In the meantime, the sportsmen know the value of keeping their hooks sharp and their powder dry, so to speak.

Trout Unlimited and some of the other sportsmen groups have staff attorneys and a history of organizing and funding successful water quality lawsuits.

Dufalla hopes the volunteer water testing database becomes a tool for negotiating with state officials and the drilling industry.

If the testing shows an ongoing pattern of water quality problems near drilling operations the sportsmen may file lawsuits, he said.

"It's the last thing you want to do," Dufalla said.

But some people in rural communities are past accepting assurances by the industry that fracking doesn't cause environmental problems. Some who don't even hunt or fish have joined the effort to patrol waterways.

Waynesburg resident Chuck Hunnell, 68, said a recent public meeting on drilling was the most radical one he's ever been to. But what he sees in the community he grew up in has turned him into an activist monitoring the drilling industry.

"And now until I breathe my last breath, I'm going to be checking on these people," Hunnell said.

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