Shale drilling cannot be done responsibly

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Regarding the Post-Gazette’s Aug. 10 editorial “Sloppy Screed: A Report Faults a Group Seeking Better Shale Practices” about criticism of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development by the Public Accountability Initiative: Keep in mind that the Heinz Endowments and PennFuture distanced themselves from being part of CSSD. Yet even that should not be the real focus of your attentions.

The editorial, at its heart, is just an “inside baseball” controversy. For now shale gas drilling, as it is currently designed and conducted, cannot be done responsibly. It is causing too much harm with air and water contamination, sicknesses among humans and animals and destruction of communities. Its long-term consequences are essentially unknown. Significant vectors of fact (e.g., well casings that cannot hold up in perpetuity but must do so to protect aquifers, methane pollution that cannot be controlled and hastens climate change) point in the direction of widespread environmental damage in the future after the gas has been extracted and profits taken.

The editors should ask CSSD two basic questions instead of worrying about a nonprofit’s report that the PG sees as not constructive: 1) Could it happen that irreparable harm is done to Pennsylvania groundwater aquifers by drilling fluids and/​or shale gases that find their way to aquifers via deteriorated well casings or as a result of fracking, and 2) has the gas industry proved that such irreparable environmental harm cannot happen? If the answers to these questions are “Maybe” and “No,” then the drilling cannot be considered responsible in any way and must be stopped.

J. STEPHEN CLEGHORN
Reynoldsville, Pa.


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