Friday, July 01, 2011

Letter to Matt Pacenza, Policy Director at Heal Utah, July 1, 2011


I left a message on your phone yesterday afternoon (Thursday 6/30) regarding the link between natural gas fracking and an increase in earthquakes, and the opportunity my daughter had that very morning to ask Congressman Matheson about his support for The Greater Natural Buttes Area Gas Development Project. I did get a call back a few minutes later, though I wasn’t sure if that was you (I apologize for not confirming that at the time).

Anyway, I wanted to make sure you had the information I’ve found linking fracking and earthquakes, and the push to halt the fracking. There are currently two major hotspots on this topic (though I’m sure if I had more time to research I would find more): Arkansas and the UK.

Here is one of the reports on the earthquakes in England:

And here is the latest report on the fracking shut-down in Arkansas:

So, here is the question my daughter, Eva TerraNova, presented to Congressman Matheson yesterday morning: 

According to your website, you are in favor of the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation’s project to development 3000 natural gas wells in the Uintah Basin. While I understand this is good for the economy, the natural gas extraction known as fracking has recently been linked to an extraordinary increase in tremors and earthquakes. Because of this, there have been industry shut downs in Arkansas and Great Britain. The French Senate has passed a bill to stop fracking, and other governments are looking at this as well.

Given the warnings we also regularly hear about the potential of a 7.0 earthquake here in the Wasatch Front, isn’t it foolish to risk bringing it on by bringing fracking into our state?
When I called you, what I knew was that Matheson had said he didn’t know about the link between fracking and earthquakes and that he’d have to look into it. 
Last night, I learned more about his reaction. Apparently he also tried to dodge the premise that he supported this natural gas project, to which Eva simply responded, “It’s on your website – I saw the press release just this morning.” [In fact, it’s right there on the front page of his official website.]

So, the way I see it, this door has now been opened. 
While I am aware that HEAL UTAH prefers to focus on promoting renewable energy, rather than attacking corporate pollution, I think the information coming out linking natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing and an increase in earthquakes is far too important to ignore. This goes beyond water contamination and cancer (though one would think that would be enough) --- this becomes a matter of risking an already-threatened major disastrous event in the Wasatch Front and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

Please help Utahns, and especially policy-makers, know what is at stake here.

Thank you,

Barbara Bellows-TerraNova



After re-sending my email to Matt, and including HEAL UTAH's Executive Director, Christopher Thomas, I heard back from both, with thanks.

Matt had a legitimate concern about something I said, and I'll let his words correct what I may have too simply represented, based on my conversation with Arthur Morris at HEAL UTAH:

Allow me for a brief moment to question your assertion on your blog that "HEAL UTAH prefers to focus on promoting renewable energy, rather than attacking corporate pollution." With all due respect, a significant bulk of our group's resources is devoted specifically to battling EnergySolutions, and their never-ending efforts to bring greater and hotter quantities of nuclear waste to Utah. I attend hearings, file comments, submit challenges, lobby officials, urge members to get involved and all kinds of other grassroots organizing and advocacy -- all with the aim of "attacking corporate pollution." It is, honestly, what HEAL does and what we've done for more than a

Also, just this week, NPR’s "This American Life" focused on a Pennsylvania community consumed by fracking:, and on Friday, NPR’s "All Things Considered" presented this story on the earthquakes in Arkansas:  I recommend listening to both stories, starting with "This American Life" and following up with the much shorter one at "All Things Considered". 

1 comment:

  1. Barbara Bellows-TerraNova7:01 AM

    Please note: The Uintah Basin, where Anadarko plans to start drilling (fracking), is only 90 miles from Green River, Uath, where Blue Castle Holdings is pushing to build a nuclear power plant.