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Fracking

By then her protagonist’s son, Harley Haney, had suffered mouth ulcers, severe abdominal pain, nausea, swollen lymph nodes and dizziness. Wilting in a recliner, he had missed a year and a half of middle school. His dog had died. The neighbors’ dogs had died. The tap water was running black and smelled foul. The air reeked. ...
Harley’s mother, Stacey Haney, suffered headaches, rashes and fatigue. His younger sister, Paige, had stomachaches and nosebleeds. The neighbors were sick, too, and one, Beth Voyles, kept a dead puppy in her freezer as potential evidence. She had been complaining to the state Department of Environmental Protection for months. ... Harley’s condition was finally diagnosed: arsenic poisoning. ...
It’s at this point that Griswold writes: “Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, sliced the D.E.P.’s budget of $217,515,000 by 27 percent, one of the biggest cuts in its history. The governor also shaved 19 percent from the $113,369,000 budget of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources”....
...Stacey and Beth had leased gas rights on their land. Something so ordinary must be safe, the two women figured. And the money the drillers offered was tantalizing. ...
... to frack a gas well means taking roughly four million gallons of water, poisoning it with chemicals, some of them proprietary secrets, and forcing this brew, together with some three million pounds of clay pellets or silica sand, into a well that extends horizontally a mile or two through shale. The shale cracks. The results: gas, fractured bedrock, depleted freshwater supplies and toxic waste. Now fortified with bacteria, heavy metals and additional toxins, the fracking fluid that returns to the surface presents a problem with no good solution. Some of it stays underground, where it combines with methane and can migrate into aquifers, streams and private wells. ...
Politicians still call it clean. In the early 2000s, Congress exempted fracking from provisions of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Amid the wreckage of the financial crisis, President Obama touted it as a win for the economy and the environment. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton pushed it on the world. After leaving office, in 2011, Governor Rendell became a paid consultant to a private-equity firm with investments in fracking. His former deputy chief of staff, another deputy, his D.E.P. chief and other erstwhile regulators enlisted in the corporate ranks of oil and gas.
- JoAnn Wypijewski, What Happened When Fracking Came to Town, NYT, July 31, 2018


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