I say this – I’m not the environmentalist I once was – with great trepidation. Unfortunately, I have to admit this situation to myself because I am reminded of it every day I run on the roads in my area.
In the past, I have been known to stack recycling up until it would fill the car and then some, trek it off to a recycling center. I would do the extra required – take both top and bottom off cans and flatten – at the time and do so happily. I went so far as to buy a book about how to be a good Christian and a good environmentalist while not worshiping the environment. I do not recall the exact title at this time. It was in the late 1980’s and it was a good book about stewardship, not worship.
As my children grew more plentiful (I am the mother of six), I had less time to really think about what was best for our environment. I tried to instill a love for nature in my children while explaining that we are stewards of the lands. More than one of my children is a hunter. All have a healthy respect for the outdoors.
Now a huge debate has come to my doorstep, essentially. You see I live in the middle of the Marcellus shale formation. On my runs, I daily see signs both in support of gas drilling and in support of not gas drilling. I am watching this debate pit neighbor against neighbor, county legislator against county executive (not all that odd but still), state legislators against taxpayers who want to lease their land.
I do not think that uncontrolled hydraulic fracturing is the answer. I do not think a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is the answer either. I think there needs to be a medium stance that allows our country to lessen its dependency on foreign oil and natural gas without endangering our environment and drinking waters.
Do I place a blame somewhere for this dilemma? Not squarely on anyone’s shoulders. I do place some blame on the US government. Back when I was in high school and college (I do have a forestry degree), the US had an energy crisis. People balked at any type of conservation. People made fun of then President Jimmy Carter as he put on a cardigan at the White House and turned the thermostat down. Unfortunately, no one in government or industry attempted to find a solution to the problem. At least one major South American country – I think it was Brazil but not 100% positive – worked diligently on alternative energies for their personal vehicles. This country did what was needed. The US government instituted some gas mileage laws but would eventually let these slide to help the US auto industry remain competitive (a strategy which didn’t really work all that well).
So, am I out there say yes, frack away? No! Am I out there saying I want to keep living my life the way I currently do? YES! Am I out there saying that you should frack somewhere else and “NIMBY” – not in my back yard? No! I am sitting firmly on the fence. I want to be assured that my drinking water – I live in the country so have well water – is as protected as the drinking water of the nine million residents of New York City. I am sitting firmly on the fence. I want some answers from those who will be responsible for patrolling what is going on with fracking. I am not willing to give up natural gas for cooking. I am not willing to give up natural gas for heat. I have even looked at a natural gas vehicle.
I am sitting firmly on the fence, waiting for information from companies that want to frack, waiting on information from governmental agencies who will have to enforce laws. I am waiting to see what happens.