Elizabeth Arnold – Panellist

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

Comments: 5

  • Kevin Walsh
    June 15, 2014 11:05 pm

    I gave a talk on the geological reasons not to exploit coal bed methane in an English county. I said that horizontal drilling through heavily folded and faulted rock was ridiculous. After the talk an old coal miner approached me and told me how difficult it had been to mine seams of coal because of the faulting and how drilling machinery was damaged once a fault was hit. This was in shallow mines just a few miles from where the CBM exploration holes are proposed, to exploit the same seams at about 700m depth. The companies have not carried basic research before they start on this foolish path.

  • Alison Flood
    June 14, 2014 10:36 am

    Is it true that frackers, US and UK, are not legally obliged to disclose the chemicals in their fracking fluid? If so, it must be impossible to prove probable cause for any health problems thought to arise from fracking.

  • Carol Edwards
    June 14, 2014 9:29 am

    Well said Una. I think if we can get us little folk who are going to be badly affected to realise the impact and make a stand and say NO, those big Oil, Gas and private investors will be stopped in their tracks. It is one case where no one should say it’s someone else’s problem, because it is going to have a deep impact on everyone. Everyone should stand up and be counted, but they all need the information to do so being put across in a very strong manner. Thanks to these people and all like them, we all can!

  • Una Hodgkins
    June 11, 2014 2:34 pm

    The geology of the Western Europe is compressed in scale compared to the USA, Canada or Australia. Sedimentary structures in the UK (which cover most of the country) are riven with many more folds and faults (400 times more) than those of the US, which means that any oil- or gas-bearing strata will be much smaller, folded, cut-up (faulted) and generally very difficult to exploit commercially even with horizontal drilling, pin-point location and hydraulic fracturing with chemicals-laden water. And pollution of groundwater, aquifers and streams through the faults is virtually certain. Yet the latest Water Act 2014 was passed without proposed amendments to require the fracking industry to clean up their pollution! Letting the drillers loose in the UK is a horrendous prospect.

    Politicians are vulnerable to PR sweet-talk from oil companies and it seems that we are going to have to shout very loud to get this simple message across!

    We need a discussion, oh yes!

  • David Diano
    June 9, 2014 4:23 pm

    Well said.

    Fracking is a huge problem in Pennsylvania and the industry here does what it does best: pollute, cover up and deny. They use their money to purchase political power. The current Gov has received millions from the industry. In return, he blocks any attempt to impose fair taxes on the extractions (taxes that could be used to help with cleanups or other problems in our state), and makes no attempt to enforce environmental violations.

    In short, fracking is all about oil/gas profits and exploiting the land and the people living there in the process.

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