For some time now I have made a special effort to drink only water that I have collected and hauled from a high country spring, and I have no plans to quit anytime soon. It is some distance from my house and it takes a bit of time out of an otherwise busy day, and it would be so much easier to turn on the municipal tap or crack a cap of bottled water.
Is it worth the trouble, you might ask?
Well, yes it is, as a matter of fact, and in more ways than you might guess, would be my answer…
Drawn deep from a primordial source, this water is wild and whole and tastes of mountain and ancient sunlight. It flows steady and true and offers a host of special properties quite hard to define. It is alive, and it feels good just to be around it. In fact, it is all about how it makes you feel, this living water…
It is not something I wish to take for granted. It is a sobering fact…
Top Yale Professor Warns That Fukushima Will Threaten Humanity For Thousands of Years. See article here.
May 18, 2012
I will always remember some of the things I did on the day of the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, other than monitoring the incoming reports on the TV news in stupefied horror, of course. Hopping about on one leg, while trying to put my pants on seemed a disproportionately difficult task that early morning. Holding the phone to my ear while talking to my wife, who happened to be in Seattle that day, didn’t make the effort any easier.
Glued to the tube of boobs, I felt an immeasurable rage and foreboding sense of powerlessness build inside of me, the likes of which I have never experienced. Clever words from inside my head, could never even come close to exploring the depths of those unfathomable feelings. Trapped like a fluttering bug in a bottle, I knew then that life on our planet had probably changed forever. I wanted to gather my wife and run…but where? To a brave new life in the southern hemisphere, perhaps?
Later that day, I stirred from my catatonic state long enough to wipe the drool from my face and stare out of our big picture window. A hundred yards below, my neighbor from our western flank was carrying out his annual controlled burn of his horse pasture. I watched as he disappeared, and then reappeared, in the wind-driven smoke, leaning smugly on his shovel as he checked the progress of the crackling flames. The problem was that he was standing squarely on my asphalt driveway, which is well past his property boundary.
My gut tightened as I saw the acrid smoke make a direct hit on my pigeon lofts and outdoor aviary, so thick that I could no longer see buildings or fence. We had discussed this before, with little result. He seemed to relish his penchant for selective hearing.
To say that this was a bad day for another trespass, and one more insolent and disrespectful act on his part would be an understatement. I could have handled it better, I admit. I was acting out, I know. But I had the full weight of the radiated world behind me, and their was no way of stopping the momentum of the Fukushima event. There is no doubt that I was able to convey my point of view to him that time. A line of communication was firmly established, and I have had no other issues with this particular fellow.
I am not proud of my interactions with my neighbor that day, and my blustering words still echo in my ears. For him, the earth may have stood still for a brief moment in time, but for different reasons than my own. Petty bickerings have no significance when compared to nuclear catastrophe. I can only associate it as a hollow and unsatisfying victory, on a day when the world shuttered and heaved.
It is strange how one can associate small, common moments in one’s life with world shattering events. I am sure we all have them. For example, at age four, I first became aware that the spoken word could touch your world from afar and shake you, perhaps forever.
It was the day that John F. Kennedy was murdered in hot blood, and also the day that I was introduced to the existence of radio. I was sitting on the front seat of our corvair, between my mother and my aunt, doing whatever young boys do to entertain themselves on a fine sunny day when trapped inside a moving metal box. I remember hearing the sound of the air constrict and freeze in their lungs as they absorbed the body blow of what they had just heard, and I began to listen too. Of course, I had no idea what was really happening, but I knew that it was important. I had never heard of JFK, and I had no understanding of presidents or politics. My mother could barely drive, and then pulled over, as her sister hugged her and they cried. I cried too, for them. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Likewise, I will always remember the day that JFK’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy died, as the day that I split my pants from stem to stern on the grade school playground. A large group of us were playing tag and running wildly on the green grass, and the next thing I knew I was being laughed at, taunted, and mocked. I sat embarrassed and mortified as I waited for my father to leave his job site and save me. It was a large happening in my young world, at that time, and I didn’t know then how I would ever get over it.
My attention shifted pretty quickly when my father picked whisked me away in his Cadillac. He didn’t say much, as he concentrated on the car radio, like my mother had done years before. The announcer spoke of assassination, murderous plots, and national grief. I barely knew who RFK was, and now he was dead too. My father was a rock of the world that other people had to step around. The bloody engagements and soul crushing events of World War II, The Battle of The Bulge, and worse, had not broken him, at least not in any way that you could see. He did not cry, nor did I, in front of him. But it was obvious that he was struggling with his own private thoughts that morning, and doing his best to make sense of it all in his own way. He no doubt had some insights into the evil that man do. He had experienced it first hand. The death of Robert Kennedy had left a mark upon my father, and the world had suffered yet another crippling blow that we all shared.
Years later, I stood in the small parking lot of a used record store near the campus of the State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. I was gathering some records to trade from the backseat of my car. An older woman saw me there, bent over, and suddenly approached me from behind and shouted “He’s dead! Oh my god, oh no, He’s dead”. “Who’s dead, I blurted”? “John Lennon is dead, she wailed”. “They killed him!” It was all I could do to keep from dropping my albums on the hard, blue pavement.
I entered the record store and found several people sobbing in low murmurs, huddled in grief. My used vinyl no longer mattered to anyone. Later, I stood in wonder as an entire college town came to its knees in bewilderment, and mourned, in… silence. I will always associate it as a day when the music stopped throughout the land. I still hear a voice singing, pleading, to “give peace a chance”, and then,…nothing. I did not cry that day, but I should have.
Other happenings remain indelibly transfixed upon my psyche. I first read the book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, when I was in the 7th grade. It changed my life forever, as it has changed and continues to change the awareness of people throughout the world. It was the first time that I was notified that the natural world I loved could be destroyed by the actions of careless and ignorant human beings. I was deeply troubled and upset. I wanted to discuss it with my classmates, but few seemed more than a little interested. They chattered on like brainless monkeys, while Love Canal percolated it’s witches brew and the rivers burned.
The ravaging effects of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane and other life destroying pesticides and compounds had run amok, and Rachel Carson wanted everyone to know it. Most of all, she called on us to stop it. She made her announcements in the face of great ridicule, and personal peril. But her voice would be heard. I will always honor her courage, and her unstoppable resolve to plug the endless barrels of poison.
I was standing in the bottom of a ditch on a wet and dreary day on a New Jersey construction site the day I heard about Chernobyl. The talk at lunch grew worse, and when I returned to my labor the sky grew darker and I swung my pick and hacked at the earth like the ditch was filled with hissing serpents. I swung with all I had, but I could not prevent Chernobyl’s runaway reactions.
I don’t remember where I was when I heard of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, as it began it’s dark black journey and covered the tidal beaches in and about Prince William Sound, Alaska. I do remember hunting large game, as it hunted me too, on some of these very same beaches more than 15 years before. I will always remember the extreme wildness of the place, and the indescribable natural bounty of her waters and limitless shorelines. I feel the magnitude of lost life still pulsating in my veins. I don’t know if I could ever bear to stand upon those beaches again.
My solar plexus still hurts from listening to the radio for days on end as I worked at my office, trying to center myself in hopes that the terrifying news of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill might somehow bounce off my tightening abdominal muscles. It flowed for 3 months and by some estimates spewed 5 million barrels of oil before being capped, and I felt every drop of it. A persistent seep exists today, and the gulf still struggles to live. I may never breathe easily, again.
Looking back now, I can see the traces and shadows of unseen political hands in the deaths of John and Robert Kennedy, and John Lennon, too. These were not natural events at all, in fact completely the opposite. These results are manipulated and man-made. We see the unfortunate distractions and the mess, while the restless hands are busy behind the magic curtain.
The masters marvel at their destructive capabilities. They celebrate their deviousness, and race to exercise their control. We see only the endgame of complicated plans and never-ending schemes, discussed in dark corners in hushed tones and evil murmurings. They got their coup d’etat, and more, and we did nothing. The schemes are global now, and almost complete. The unseen hands now flash openly in the sun. If you doubt this, I invite you to take a good look around. You might not like what your eyes will see, once you learn how to look.
Still, they have gone too far. We may long for the day when all we had to worry about was the desperately thin and fragile shells of eagle eggs, and the numerous other side effects of DDT. Now we have the story of the disappearing honey bees and colony collapse disorder, and the discoveries of three-legged frogs who do not know if they be girls or boys. We grew bored with high-tech delivery systems of devastatingly effective pesticides. Now we just splice the mimicking agents within genetically modified organisms, which take over and dominate the natural order of all living things. They’re ready to eat too, pesticides and all. Imagine that. Even Rachel Carson could not have seen that one coming.
It wasn’t enough to worry about giant ocean tankers filled with crude being run aground by drunken sailors on top of some of the most ecologically sensitive areas on the planet. These days we drill down below miles of hostile ocean, and then miles below that, until the unbelievable pressures of it all explode and crack the sea bed. Not satisfied to spoil the oceans, we now move inland, to frack and fracture and contaminate all freshwater drinking supplies. It’s all just a careless experiment, and another day’s work for the slithering horde.
Perhaps we thought that we would all learn something from the horrors of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. We should have, after all. It was time then, and even before that, to admit the folly and incalculable risks of nuclear power. It’s a deceiver’s dream, in fact a nightmare, dropped upon the back of all mankind.
What’s next in this escalating hit parade of environmental tragedies? They’ve already pierced the heart of the planet and set the sky on fire. A demonically engineered plague or two might suit their purposes. Or perhaps they can pry open an insatiable black hole, and let it loose to gobble us up?
Fukushima-Daiichi is what’s next. The crisis is far from over, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. If the truth were known, it may already be the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the human race. The empty promises and false hopes of our future science, will not fix it. We are but one earthquake away from the end of the world as we know it.
We must stop these madmen from doing more harm. They are merely modern-day mad hatters, poisoned by the vapors from their own industry, hubris, and conceit. They have counted coup upon us, and in their haste they may have destroyed themselves too. The time has come to show them the error of their ways, and of ours. Like the spoiled and overindulged children of hapless parents, we must rip away the vengeful toys they clutch, before they kill us all.
I would explain all of this to my neighbor, if I could, and if he would listen. I would try. I fear that train has left the station, headed for unknown destinations.
I don’t like to dwell on world events or pry in other’s business. I prefer to pay more attention to what’s under my nose, and in my backyard. Fukushima is vastly different. There is nowhere to run. The radiation plume is over my head now, and the tiny, unseen particles are on us, and in us. There will be consequences, whether I choose to deny their presence, or not.
But my personal reservoir of hope has long since run dry. The kind of strength I will need can only come from somewhere else, and in the hope of that I pray. For now, I cry for the people of Fukushima, and for all of Japan. I cry for all living things, large and small, and for our mother earth. I cry for the dying, and the unborn. I cry with you, or without. I cry for me, and for you.
I cry big, fat, irradiated tears which roll down my face, and wish that they can grow harmless, before they hit the floor.
“Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings”. – John F. Kennedy
Our house has a big picture window on the upper level, facing south. I often sit behind it before the sun arrives, with coffee, looking. I like to observe the sun’s first searching rays wake up the mountain peaks above us, each one receiving it’s due as the sun climbs skyward. I study my view, on the lookout for the flick of a mule deer’s ear in the pasture to our west, the prance of a coyote as he heads for the safety of protective cover, or the twitch of a magpie’s tail in the apricot tree in our garden.
For more than a couple of years, in fact an eternity, I have watched in horror as the natural gas drilling rigs arrived and deployed their forces on the brushy slopes and hills across the Colorado River. Ever closer, they dot the landscape of my picture window in increasing numbers, and fill my mind with increasing dread and impending doom. I wish they would go away. I wish I could wave my hand and wish them away. Just go away, I pray.
When we purchased our property, we were told that our area had been explored in the past and it was found that it was not economically feasible to recover what gas deposits existed below our feet. No one then talked of the many impacts of heavy truck traffic, the legalities of natural gas leases, and the harsh realities of the split estate. Then came hydraulic fracturing and our world changed. We did not see it coming. We were not consulted.
Soon, our neighborhood was bustling with gas workers and pick up trucks, and the acrid smell of diesel fuel and angst left hanging on the wind. Our roads and highways became suddenly congested, property values exploded, and great plans were made. The mad fool’s rush was on. We began hearing the cries from the people and landowners in the direct line of fire. This is not right, they said. How can this be, they shouted? How can you hurt us so badly?
I remember sitting behind my window as the first uncontrolled well fire belched huge clouds of rolling black smoke blowing east across my view. I rose and stood transfixed, mortified, slapped out of my chair with a wave of revulsion and outrage with fist in the air. How can this happen, I asked? Who else is watching this? Will anybody be held accountable? To what account?
The economy has crashed along with our housing prices and the nation’s hopes. Another boom, then bust. It has slowed the industry down to some degree, as has some new environmental regulation. Yet, the damage continues. We need the jobs they say. I’m sorry, but we do not have ears for this line of argument.
We hear about well water that smells of noxious chemicals and can be ignited at the tap. We hear of strange skin rashes and people getting sick. Some move to get out-of-the-way. Some abandon their homes and run. And still the rigs come. We were told of an industry insider who claimed that they would frack every square mile in the state of Colorado, and the west. They are sure of it. They are proud of it. Drill baby drill, full speed ahead and damn the torpedos. It’s mom’s apple pie, the colors red, white, and blue, and the american way. Stay out of our way, they say. We have the law on our side.
I want to know why no one asked me how I felt about it, or inquired of my friend the magpie. I want to know why the gas executives feel it is “O.K.” for me to breathe the bad air from their vent stacks, or to suffer the sight of ravaged hillsides and the land scars that they leave behind. I want someone to look me in the eye and explain to me why I must bear the blinding lights of their rig towers and tall cranes at night, beaming directly into my being and destroying my peace of mind. I want to know why they think it is acceptable for me to worry about my health and the health of my friends and family. Give me a reason why you are prepared to jeopardize the lives of my kids and their kids and the environment that sustains them.
I have a simple answer for them, had they bothered to ask if I would allow them in our neighborhood. The answer is no, hell no! Can I make it any clearer? How dare you to presume otherwise.
I also beg a question of them. How about this one? Just who on god’s green earth do you think you are?
I have a suggestion too. Take your proprietary cocktails of poisons and death and leave. Get out of my backyard, which is vast and indomitable. It does not belong to you. Get out of my community and keep on going until you run right out of the west and drown in the sea.
There is a special place in hell just for you, and your seat at that table is your’s forever.
The opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, continues to grow exponentially with each passing day. On August 22, 2013, a coalition of 276 environmental and consumer organizations delivered a petition to the White House signed by almost 3/4 of a million people calling for an end to fracking on all public lands.
This is a most encouraging turn of events, and far removed from the anxious, lonely days when so many of us heard our small, insignificant voices crying from the wilderness of the public grounds.
Well, not any more.
There is world changing power in numbers, and I have no doubt that the movement will continue to grow as all of the adverse environmental and social effects become more evident.
I remain a steadfast opponent, for any number of reasons. In fact I can go much farther than that.
I have heard of fracking being compared to “a dirty bomb”, for the numerous radioactive isotopes and other contaminated products that result from this insidious and dangerous process.
The human mind has an amazing capacity for denial, and “out of sight – out of mind” seems to be a mantra built deeply into the collective mind.
Never is this more apparent in this liquid, sleeping monster beneath our feet. Why, for example are so many people so easily convinced that the deadly chemicals used in the fracking process are of no concern, because they are injected thousands of feet or more below the surface of the earth? Is it somehow O.K. to poison the ground water there, because we are told to believe that it will never contaminate our drinking water? Is it somehow right to destroy something, simply because it is far, far away?
I will not take the time here to argue about odds and statistics or the general opportunities for contamination. I won’t delve into the secret chemical compositions of the fracking fluids, or the politics of leases or good old boy deals or the public’s right to know. Like many of us, I already know far more about these kind of things than I ever cared to know. I no longer trust, because the public trust was sold away long before we raised our heads.
I prefer to get right to the heart of the matter, which in my humble opinion is quite obvious.
If something does not change, fracking will become the most devastating environmental holocaust ever perpetrated upon the human race. There – I said it.
Now that’s a head spinning mouthful of “no, tell me what you really think”!
It will affect more people than the atmospheric A-bomb tests, Chernobyl, and even yes, Fukushima, which by the way has not even begun yet to lay us low in a pulsating and inescapable cloud of darkness. It’s a horrifying pretense.
I hope I am very, very wrong, About fracking, and all of it. Perhaps I will not live long enough to see its deadly fingers touch the world like I know it could. I am but one individual, but I cry for the children and the poisoned world left for other’s to bear when I am gone.
The hour has grown very, very late, but maybe, just maybe, it is not too late to pull back from the precipice. It’s time to get involved in the anti-fracking campaign, and I don’t mean tomorrow, but today. Tell whoever you can to help stop the madness now.
The public lands belong to us – to everyone, and they must be managed for the generations to come. They are our birthright, won in blood, and the legacy of a free and independent people.
They are not held in trust for others to despoil and poison.
“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money”.
Last week my wife and I attended a meeting regarding one energy company’s plans for natural gas drilling in our community near Silt, Colorado, on Colorado’s western slope. The small meeting room was packed, the tension high. The meeting had been announced in the paper on short notice, without regard to the previous requests of local community contacts for increased communication and appropriate notifications. Area residents wanted to know just what was up, and how new drilling operations would affect their property and their lives. They were ready to do battle to protect themselves from the onslaught.
The top executive and main spokesman fairly well diffused the situation by stating that their would be no new drilling activities north of the Colorado River in 2012. The public crowd seemed stunned, deflated, and perplexed. Had we not been told that drilling and fracking would occur in our area this year, and that it was imminent?
Most of the natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations in our area have taken place south of Highway I-70 and the Colorado River. The activities have been and continue to be intense. There have been consequences and environmental insults too numerous to mention here. Just recently it was announced that the Garfield County Commissioners have moved to complete a study exploring a link between natural gas development and methane in the shallow groundwater deposits. An earlier phase of the study led one geological consultant to conclude that methane levels were increasing in domestic water wells because of gas development. It was later found that methane and methane compounds turned up in all six groundwater monitoring wells.
So, as you can see, I for one am extremely glad that there will be no drilling near my house in 2012. For now, I, along with others, can breathe a sigh of relief. We can wait until 2013 or later for the industry to poison our water wells, foul our once glorious sweet mountain air, and run us off the road with heavy tanker trucks sloshing about with thousands of gallons of hazardous waste on board. Recently, a tanker truck overturned and spilled an estimated 500 gallons of produced water, which is found deep underground with oil and gas deposits and comes to the surface along will hydraulic fracturing fluids. The spill narrowly missed a contamination of the Colorado River. We should all feel good that a crisis was averted and the spill team was johnny on the spot, you see. The trout in the river are a bit nervous though.
No one really knows why they will not work on our side of the river this year. It could be because natural gas prices are way down and they will have to wait until they rise again. It could be that the previous exploratory wells have proved unworthy for production to be economically feasible. They are still studying that one, we are told. Or, it could be that they are simply too busy already with there ongoing operations south of the river, gleefully fracking away. They did mention briefly that there is ongoing litigation related to their exploratory drilling operations on the north side. One family feels that they were made sick. They had already been forced to flee. Could that have something to do with the ceasing of drilling here, pray tell?
I listened to the industry executive describe their ongoing and future plans. He was a true expert in the art of deflecting the discussion away from the heart of the matter. No doubt this was a skill which had helped him to get where he was on the corporate ladder. I studied his demeanor, his expressions, and body language. I watched him bite his lip and spit out his words, albeit quite professionally. His utter contempt for the general public was not concealable. It was obvious that he did not want to be there.
I sat quietly as his minions and underlings answered our questions, quite eager to please the boss. They were experts at deflection too. Their job was to answer it right, without saying too much or providing opportunity for alarm or additional questions. They were prepared and ready and they knew just what to say. They were happy to answer, without apology. All was right in their world. I looked at all of them and thought that there is no doubt that they have drunk the Kool-Aid. They are perfectly possessed, but by what is open for debate. For them it is a righteous endeavor and I do not believe they are capable of hearing anything we would like to say.
Before attending the meeting, I read a newspaper article that discussed the fact that the frequency and number of spills and releases attributed to the natural gas industry in our state had dropped significantly in 2011 compared to 2010. A specialist with the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission (COGCC) had praised the industry for it’s improving record. Their report stated that 54 spills and ongoing releases were documented in 2011, compared to 99 incidents in 2010. However, the COGCC conceded that their five field inspectors had a difficult time covering the large northwest quadrant of Colorado – and that spills and releases could occur without being reported. They also reported that total drilling activity for 2011 was considerably down.
Spills are handled differently in each case. Sometimes, clean dirt is poured on top of an area where a spill has taken place, and then “blended” until the contaminant level meets appropriate standards. In other words, they are diluted and left in the hopes that they degrade over time, as they migrate down to groundwater.
I don’t know about others, but somehow this does not provide me comfort nor speak well of the natural gas industry. Am I to celebrate the fact that “only” 54 spills were documented, and that many others are most probably unreported? Does anyone know exactly what was spilled and the details of all of their potential health effects? Am I to assume that my water well or the well of my neighbors will not be contaminated, because someone said it would be O.K.? I know that I am not the only one asking these questions. I hope that more and more people will ask them also.
During the meeting I asked about the newly passed law regarding the disclosure of the content of fracking fluids. One of the representatives was happy to answer. He assured me that it was a good law, and that they were happy to comply. They had in fact been already complying. Of course, they still did not have to reveal any formulas that could be designated as “proprietary”. Indeed.
He assured me that only about 1% of the fluid mixture contained anything to be concerned about. Really. So in other words, about 1% of the fracking fluids contained something to be concerned about. Huh?
The boss stepped in to purport the joys and harmlessness of fracking fluids. He said in a nutshell that the industry was already addressing the concerns of the public and was working to stay ahead of the curve. The composition of fracking fluids were becoming more “green”. He projected that within about six years the standard for fracking fluids would result in a mixture that would present very little for the public to worry about.
Again, – really? So, for at least six years I do have something to worry about. But not too much, because only 1% of the fracking fluids contain anything that might harm me. One percent equals one of a hundred. Might you be aware of potential harmful effects of some chemicals in concentrations of say, one in a million? Or how about, one in a billion. That’s a very small number for an effect that may produce a result that can be devastating to human health. Of course, there are some bad things that we do not have to tell you about. Well, I feel better. You can frack a lot of wells in six years. No wonder they are working as fast as they can.
After the general discussion, I questioned an engineer about the ins and outs of well casing design, which he was obviously very into and happy to discuss. He told me that their casings were double and triple lined with pipe and concrete. There was no way that the shallow ground water table could be affected, because there was no chance for a leak or cross contamination.
Really? I guess he had not read of the recent findings concerning the lax and inconsistent federal oversight of the drilling industry on public lands. Only six percent of violations resulted in monetary fines over 13 years, totaling less than $275,000. A total of 113 major violations cited inadequate well-casing or cementing. These procedures are a key defense against groundwater contamination. Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey stated that “This report indicates that confidence in the oversight of drilling on public lands should be limited, at best”.
Later, I pointed to the big wall map of our area and asked the boss about the possible locations of possible pipe lines on the north side of the river. He looked at me kind of funny, and it seemed like he did not want to answer. Finally, he waved his hand across the map a time or two. He then said something like “the exact location isn’t that important”. “Funny thing”, I said. I told him it was kind of important to me,as he had just swept his finger very close to or directly through my property. He turned and walked away.
So, folks, how to you tell when one of the local gas industry reps is probably lying. You guessed it, their lips are moving. They must lie. The truth does damage. From my point of view, one spill is one spill too many. One percent of anything bad is one percent too much. One improperly cemented well casing is one mistake past acceptable.
This meeting could have happened in any fire station or town hall across the united states. There might not be too much we can do to stop them. My advice is to start screaming and keep screaming loudly. Scream until someone gets the message. Keep out of our neighborhoods. You are not welcome here.
Take a moment to ask the good citizens of Pavillion, Wyoming what they might think of hydraulic fracturing. They are screaming right now.
A Journal of Honest Food, Freedom, and The Natural World