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Fracking stories illustrate controversy

Two recent fracking stories that appeared in the news on the same day, illustrate in a nutshell the controversy surrounding drilling operations which extract natural gas from rock formations.

In one article, landowners were threatening to sue a government commission to withdraw a ban on fracking. http://news.yahoo.com/pa-landowners-pledge-suit-unless-171620547.html;_ylt=AwrjgkxgE9ZR0HQABgD_wgt. Whereas another article concerned an explosion at a drilling pad that seriously injured seven workers. http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201307070002

The landowners want fracking in their area because it creates jobs, but the other story illustrates one of the prime dangers of drilling, namely, injuries or deaths due to fire and explosion. Also a concern with fracking is potential contamination of surrounding water supplies. That is at the heart of the debate in the landowner story.

In the first story, landowners in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania are threatening to sue the Delaware Basin River Commission if they don't lift a 3 year moratorium on drilling. The Commission, which has responsibility for monitoring the water supply of more than 15 million people within the Delaware River watershed which includes parts of Philadelphia and New York City, wants to make sure that appropriate regulations are in place to protect the water supply before they lift the ban. The landowners say they are moving too slowly and it's costing them jobs and royalties, fees which the gas companies pay to landowners for the privilege of drilling on their property.

In the West Virginia case, it appears as if a total of 7 people were injured in an explosion that took place in Doddridge County and at least 4 of the people have life threatening injuries. Several of the injured were transported to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh for specialized burn care.

As we have said in the past on this blog, there is no question that drilling operations create good paying jobs for a lot of people, but they come with a price. There is the ever present risk to the environment and to the health and well being of the workers doing the drilling.

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