I’m writing to address concerns about nonlandowners who don’t realize the consequences for them of the so-called “Shale Boom.”
By now most, if not all, of them have heard repeatedly about how dangerous chemicals used in hydraulic fracture drilling can get into aquifers and, then, into drinking water.
They have also heard about other negative impacts: air pollution; heavy, dangerous, destructive truck traffic; scarred landscapes; and loud compressor stations. Yet, very few nonlandowners are willing to take a stand and speak out against fracking.
Many people in Youngstown were also complacent until 11 earthquakes shook the area. What will it take to shake nonlandowners out of their complacency?
Nonlandowners must begin to realize that those who have the most to gain from such drilling are wealthy landowners, who purchased land as an investment or inherited it. Many of them have now become even richer by leasing their land for up to $4,500 an acre. Many of them don’t even live in areas where their land is leased. They are many miles away and will continue breathing clean air, drinking clean water, enjoying good health and collecting royalty checks from the oil and gas companies who are ruining these leased areas.
Wealthy landowners will reap all the benefits while the nonlandowners pay dearly.
Landowners will be able to afford the pleasures of big homes, expensive cars, maybe even yachts. The nonlandowners who live near their leased land, however, will live in fear of their water becoming undrinkable and their air, unbreathable.
They will be trapped in unhealthy, dangerous, noisy and scarred communities. They will live in a constant state of fear, frustration, anger, hopelessness and regret. They will regret not uniting with other nonlandowners to ban fracking.
Nonlandowners must also start to realize that they are the majority, and that we are still living in a democracy. They need to contact other nonlandowners and begin to work together to exercise their right to put pressure on elected officials to stop giving free rein to the oil and gas industry, and to start paying attention to the needs of the people — the people who elected them.
Steven J. Beck
West Middlesex, Pa.
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