6.23.10 This Land is Your Land

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the house site (photos by george billard)
We're seriously considering buying this piece of land that was brought to our attention by a guardian angel up here in Sullivan County. The idea would be to build our dream house on it one day. It's a nice-sized 5-acre lot that starts with a gorgeous meadow and rolls down a hill to a breathtaking reservoir. The best thing is that across the reservoir is all state-owned land that is a protected sanctuary for the bald eagle. We put the canoe in there the other day and it's absolutely stunning. The prospect of being able to live in such a place seems almost too good to be true.So you can imagine how my heart broke when I watched Josh Fox's gripping documentary, Gasland, on HBO the other night. It was a hit at Sundance and I imagine it will get theatrical distribution at some point, but I urge you to see it now; you can watch it on HBO On Demand. Hot, bitter tears rolled down my cheeks during most of the film, which is about fracking—the hydraulic fracturing process that is being used to free up natural gas from within vast shale deposits. Natural gas is being touted as the ideal "transition" fuel that will take us away from fossil fuels and toward alternative energy sources. In fact, this extraction method is entirely unregulated, thanks to a loophole created by Dick Cheney, that evil and calculating sonofabitch. He even convinced the Bureau of Land Management, an agency that is supposed to look after 264 million acres of pristine public land—that's OUR land—to allow drilling.
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the reservoir
There is a huge area slated for drilling called the Marcellus Shale, a black shale formation extending deep underground from Ohio and West Virginia northeast into Pennsylvania and southern New York. I knew that drilling had already commenced in parts of Pennsylvania, but I was shocked to learn that it has been going on in other parts of the country as well. Gasland show the ghastly effects of drilling in Colorado and Arizona, including brain lesions and testicular problems from contaminated water tables and atmospheric conditions. Because drilling would take place quite near the New York watershed in the Catskills, New York State has managed to put a moratorium on drilling until "more research" can be done. This is in large part due to the very real possibility that New York City's water supply could become contaminated.It makes sense that such an affluent and vocal constituency would be able to exert its influence, but what about the poor and disenfranchised in the rest of the country? Sullivan County, where I live, is among the poorest counties in NY State—what do you think these people will say when the gas companies offer them $4,000 an acre to lease their land for drilling? Especially when they are assured that it's "totally safe."In reality, fracking injects hundred of Halliburton-created (Hello, Dick!) carcinogenic chemical compounds into the shale, and then produces a huge amount of contaminated water run-off that has to be disposed of...somehow. Gasland includes numerous frightening shots of people literally lighting on fire the stream of methane-polluted water coming from their home taps. The people of Dimock, Pennsylvania, know only too well what happens when 8,000 gallons of toxic drilling fluids spill into their groundwater. Check out this article for the gory details.

Drilling may never be allowed on the state-protected land across from the property we want to buy. But the Marcellus shale extends deep into New York and Pennsylvania and these water sources are all connected. Just because there is a moratorium on drilling in New York now, doesn't mean the oil and gas lobby won't find a way to get that lifted. You know that New York City tap water we always brag about? Gone. And even if drilling never makes it into your backyard, it's happening—and slated to happen—all over the country. Just click on the Drilling Areas link on the Gasland website to get an idea of the extent. Please do what you can to prevent our land from being ruined by drilling for natural gas. Spread the word so this issue gets the attention it deserves, and write to your legislators; all the information is here.

Because I want to be able to live in peace with the eagles and the fish and the bear and the wild blackberries and the red fox and the deer, right here on this beautiful land...
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the meadow
 
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6 Comments

I only got half way through Gasland last night but plan to finish this evening -- it is beyond disturbing! Thank you for this great post, hopefully helps to raise awareness about what is going on all over America, right under our noses -- would love to put our heads together (mik and ben are up in arms as well!) and figure out a way to organize against fracking!!
stephanie on June 23, 2010 at 9:27 am — Reply
Let's start planning the revolution on July 4th!!
laura on June 23, 2010 at 10:01 am — Reply
how appropriate!
stephanie on June 23, 2010 at 11:03 am — Reply
Such a beautiful place! I hope you are able to make it home one day. The radio show 'Fresh Air' did an Interview with the filmmaker last week and it was so disturbing to listen to, I can only imagine how powerful the film is!
Suzinn on June 24, 2010 at 8:42 am — Reply
My DVR is set to record it tomorrow. I am very anxious to see it. This, combined with the heartbreaking pictures coming from the Gulf, is mindblowing. We are in a fast race to destroy nature and ourselves.
The Fabulous Moolah on June 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm — Reply
Thank you for enlightening me about this! And, I hope it will be your land to cherish some day! xo
Jocelyn on June 27, 2010 at 8:34 am — Reply