Elizabeth_ArnoldI’m from Pennsylvania USA and I’m here in the UK to #TalkFracking and provide the public with insight into what to expect from the fracking industry once they start drilling. Fracking snuck up on us in Pennsylvania before anyone had a real idea of what this unconventional drilling process entailed. Pennsylvania has a long history of gas and oil drilling and coal mining, but what we’ve found is that fracking is a very different type of extraction to what our parents and grandparents were doing.

There are approximately 9,000 fracked gas wells across 60% of the state of Pennsylvania, yet there has been little discussion in the media and in public forums about how fracking is impacting the community or local businesses.

For the first time in Scotland the gas industry is pushing to exploit coal bed methane through unconventional extraction methods that have proven so harmful in my home state. The gas industry in Pennsylvania has never taken responsibility for the water it has contaminated, the devaluation in house prices that fracking has caused, or the negative impact that the drilling has had on other businesses and public health. It’s important that the UK public talks about fracking; assess the risks, and analyse the track record of the gas industry in other parts of the world.

Official records show that over the course of nice short years, Pennsylvania has seen 161 cases of water contamination, but there are many unrecorded cases which remain hidden from public records. In every documented case of water contamination, even where the state has admitted that water was fouled due to nearby fracking; gas companies deny any responsibility. It is standard industry policy. Even to people who have leased their land and are collecting royalties, the gas industry has not been a good neighbour.

Leaseholders in the US are often not compensated for lost property value or contaminated water. They are not given information or assistance when dealing with spills and accidents. They are often cheated on royalty payments, getting much less than promised. This is what is happening to those who have signed a legal contract. They still have no say in what happens on and below their land. UK homeowners and landowners have fewer rights than leaseholders in the US because in this country you do not own your mineral rights.

Now is the time to talk about fracking, before those in power make the decision for you.

Elizabeth Arnold