Thursday, November 4, 2010

Natural gas drilling poisons Appalachian wildlife and water supplies

- Natural gas poisons Appalachian wildlife and water supplies

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, pet lovers of all ages, and welcome to The Web-DVM. I am your host, Dr. Roger Welton, practicing veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter.

My friends, as many of you are aware, in light of the BP oil tragedy and the company’s deplorable response to it, I began a Going Green segment as part of my weekly broadcasts to you in order to inform all of you that there clean renewable energy sources out there, means to power our homes and our vehicles, that do not require us to rely on foreign powers that hate us, nor pollute and warm our planet. All we have to do is actively pursue these innovations by taking the plunge ourselves, keeping them as an integral component of our conversations, and get excited to join the rest of the world in moving into a green energy future. Tonight will be my last Going Green talk with you, but is perhaps the most important, so important that I will be dedicating this entire broadcast to it.

You may have recently seen T. Boone Pickens’ TV onslaught on how he plans to bring our country into a state of energy independence by pushing for wind turbine energy, an energy source that we all agree is clean, renewable and plentiful, but also to pick up a large bulk of our energy needs, with natural gas. He argues that natural gas can power our cars and provide our electricity needs, as well as it has already proven to heat our homes. He says that it burns cleaner than oil and coal, and we have plenty of it right here on our own land in the United States, so plentiful in fact, that based on current and projected energy needs, there is enough to last us as long as 200 years. Sounds great, right? Not!

Now T. Boone Pickens is correct that natural gas is plentiful and cleaner burning, but what he is not telling you, is that drilling for this stuff is horrifically polluting. You see gas companies rely on a natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting water mixed with chemicals into rock at high pressure to extract the gas. These chemicals are toxic and have proven already to have a high potential to leak into the ground water, not only contaminating water supplies, but also poisoning aquatic wildlife and fishing sanctuaries. Like faulty oil wells, faulty natural gas wells also can leak the natural gas itself into water supplies and wildlife sanctuaries.

The scary part, is the geologists that work for gas companies, have identified the largest natural gas reserve in the country in the Marcellus Shale region, a layer of subterranean rock that runs beneath the Appalachian Mountains from the state of New York, all the way to Tennessee, leaving New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and even western areas of the Carolinas and Georgia potential victims of the path of destruction that could be wrought should gas companies get their way.

In the state of Pennsylvania where gas companies have taken advantage of tough economic times to convince many land owners to sell away their mineral rights, the catastrophic effects of natural gas drilling have already taken their toll. Nearby residents of the Monongahela River, a primary source for fishing wildlife recreation, as well as drinking water for 350,000 residents, were finding that dishwater and washing machine systems were malfunctioning while at the same time, people began to get sick. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shortly thereafter discovered that the river had become contaminated with chemically laden drilling waste water, specifically with benzene, cadmium, aluminum, and methane. Aluminum is a potential neurotoxin, while benzene and cadmium are confirmed cancer causing chemicals known as carcinogens. DEP provided a quick fix by releasing dams upstream to dilute out the contamination, but this past August, contamination levels spiked again. Drilling waste water also was responsible for killing more than 10,000 fish along a 33 mile stretch of Dunkard Creek, while a spate of other drilling wastewater contamination cases have surfaced in 7 other counties.

DEP has levied fines against the offending natural gas companies for the contaminations, is in a legal fight for imposing a moratorium on further natural gas drilling until a commission can provide real solutions to the problem of drilling wastewater contamination and well leakage.

Pennsylvania currently is at the forefront of the natural gas boom brought courtesy of T Boone Pickens, and is serving as a harbinger for what is to come across a much larger region because, ladies and gentlemen, if T. Boone Pickens and the natural gas lobby get their way, natural gas drilling will spread from New York to Tennessee like cancer, literally! New York State, following Pennsylvania’s example, has already sold off mineral rights of large tracts of land in the Catskill Mountain region for natural gas drilling. The Catskill Mountain region has historically been the supplier of drinking water for the Greater New York City region, long the envy of other major cities for its incredibly clean and potable water piped in from a pristine wildlife treasure. In the current climate of make money and find energy no matter the cost, even this long standing tradition is in jeopardy.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, if T. Boone Pickens and the natural gas lobby succeed in advancing their agenda, many of our nation’s most pristine wildlife treasures will turned into examples of death and destruction and most appallingly, millions of people will get sick and die.

So what should we do about it? Speak up, petition politicians to fight this, and vote them out if they will not. Spread awareness, disseminate this video and let others know that they are being sold an energy source whose collection stands poised to destroy and poison wildlife and people alike. If you own land in the Appalachian region, do not let yourself be seduced with quick money offered to sell your mineral rights. Spread awareness among your neighbors of the peril your community faces should they be seduced into selling their mineral rights, for drilling on their land will contaminate your groundwater and water supply just the same. Refuse to throw away your health, the health of others, and poison wildlife for a quick buck and fleeting energy. Instead embrace all of the options I have given you in my Going Green Segment the past several weeks: geothermal, solar, biodiesel, electric cars, etc. Join me in choosing a future of green, renewable, non-polluting energy, not embracing a past of energy company slash, burn, kill and drill.

That is my show for this evening. Thank you as always for watching. Don’t forget to join me for my live radio call-in show Wednesdays 9PM EST at my blog at where the radio player, as well as this show, is always embedded.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:

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Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website


Smokey Mountain Hop said...

My frequent retreat and second home is a cabin in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. To hear this makes me outraged! I go to my home the the peace and serenity that I do not get at my regular home in Atlanta. To know that Boone Pickens has no problem laying waste to all of the pristine beauty my region and the rest of Appalachia offers humanity is nothing short of appalling. What is it about human nature that we must destroy all that is beautiful?? We have solutions to energy, many of which the doc has been good enough to tellus about in the last several weeks. All we have to do is stop being lazy, not get led around by our short and curlies by the likes of people like T. Boone Pickens that do not care about the environment (remember, this guy's fortune all came from oil!), and push for these solutions.

pw1974 said...

Of course Pickens is going to push for energy without environmental consideration - he built his fortune on oil! Now I have no doubt that he is sincere in his motivation being his country's energy independence, but make no mistake, he stands to make a hefty profit and does not give two hoots about the environmental consequences of his goals! Men like him rationalize away bad consequeces and convince themselves that the ends justify the means.

Frustrated said...

The main problem that I see is not just the greed for energy, but the desperation for employment. There are a lot of jobs tied to that industry that people are not willing to see go during the Great Recession. Look at the BP oil spill -even after that tragedy, because so many jobs are tied into the oil industry, Gulf states were unanimously against a new drilling moratorium, even after they lost 11 of their own and watched their precious waters turn into an oil slick!!! It is sad what we will do to our planet to keep people employed and keep the energy flowing! Why must people feel more compelled to cling to dirty polluting energy jobs rather force the change in paradigm to a clean energy future with jobs in green technology. Europe, China, and even India have realized this. Why are we increasingly the ass backward country stuck in the past???

Bo said...

As a country, we are always on the wrong side of every issue until enough people get hurt, or enough environment gets destroyed. The good doctor put out this fantastic expose' of this industry and I am grateful for its dissemination. I am sure this is a well trafficked blog, but sorry doc, I would hardly call it main stream news. Why do I have to find out about this travesty on a less than main stream niche news source like this, when it should be blasted all over the airways. Fox News goes insane the entire day if Obama farts sideways, MSNBC goes apeshit every time Sarah Palin says something else stupid, yet THIS NEWS, the REAL NEWS that gives us information that impacts our health, lives, and natural treasures, nobody stands to make one single peep about it!!!

It is infuriating to say the very LEAST!!! Dr. Welton, is there some way you could end up on one of those bullshit news networks, so that somebody can bring us news that actually matters??? All these assholes care about is discrediting the political party it is their job to be cheerleaders for!

Allen said...

I have a friend who live in PA near the WV border that is having these very water contamination problems. It is beyond sad folks, this is a crime what is being done to these people. Because of the decision a select few that sell off the the mineral rights to their lands, the water of an entire region is poison. This is the USA, how can this be allowed to happen???

I Salute our Veterans! said...

I salute all of our men and women in uniform this Veteran's Day! Let us honor their service and sacrifice by refusing to poison the nation they protect!

Delois said...

Our greed for energy and money knows no bounds. We will foul our oceans for oil and keep right on going. Even the in gulf region where BP turned the Gulf of Mexico into the Gulf of Texaco, ruined an already hurting economy, and will suffer long term effects for decades to come or longer, the majority of Gulf citizens want to keep the wells flowing, even push for new even more risky drilling further offshore; because they do not want to lose that oil revenue, even if their shores become one giant oil slick. So the fact that this natural gas travesty is going on now may be very upsetting, but unfortunately, not surprising. As long as people have a job, are making money, and have cheap energy, the hell with the environment. I fear that by the time my kids are adults, there will be no more natural beauty or decent water to drink anywhere in our country.

Pluto said...

You are most correct, Delois. In the end, human beings are a fickle species, oft willing to satisfy the present at the severe peril of the future. Combine this with a strong tendency toward self destruction, it is a miracle we are still here!

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- Robson