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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"all my life i'd been searching for trees such as these" (seuss)

well, as it turns out that beech tree on my street is just about a hundred years old.  i know this because i was able count the rings on its stump today.

as i walked my son and my dog past the site today, i spent a few minutes searching around for the lorax.  i was sure he was hidden amongst the downed trunks and branches.  but, alas, there was not sign of the mythical mustached tree spirit.  just a messy pile of lifeless wood laying before a backdrop of spindly-looking tree friends.  i considered tacking a sign to the stump that read "UNLESS" but decided i'd already given my two cents and it was time to move on.

i then took a moment to reconcile the fact that the trees are gone.  but admittedly, i'm still disappointed that the original owners sold the souls of these truly magnificent natural masterpieces for a few thousand bucks - after all, this is a densely populated town and trees such as these are not exactly abundant in our neighborhoods.

i'm trying instead to feel grateful for the life lesson, for the many residents who do take the natural landscape into consideration before building homes (and there are plenty), for the copious firewood and for the space that's now available for a new family to move into the flats of winchester.  maybe they'll decide to plant a truffula or two in the backyard.

peace, love, gratitude,

scroll down to see the before pictures.

Monday, November 26, 2012

what the frack?????

There are tons of hyperlinks in this, here for you to learn more about this very important topic today.  

I've heard tidbits here and there about hydraulic fracturing, fracking, but this morning Tom Ashbrook of NPR's On Point hosted a program dedicated to the topic.  If you haven't heard it, click here and listen.  

Basically, fracking is using a high-pressure flow of sand and water to fracture shale stone far below the earth's surface in order to extract oil.  Here's a video.  Big oil companies like Chevron and Chesapeake are using this technique in attempt to find other ways of extracting the earth's resources and staying in business.

At this point there are 6,000 wells dedicated to fracking, and this number is only increasing.  Oil companies are not only drilling in Texas and Alaska, they're drilling wells in 18 states and on the hunt for more.  This is happening in everyone's backyard.  Here's a map I found on Earthjustice.  The skull and crossbones represent accidents, suspicious pollution levels and animal deaths that have occurred near the wells:

The fracking process requires lots and lots (and lots) of water.  2-3 million gallons per well.  The first question is, do we have enough water to operate these many thousands of wells and still have a clean supply for drinking, crop irrigation, etc?  No one can answer that question because it is completely dependent on climate and rainfall, which we New Englanders know all too well is anything but predictable.

100% of the water that is used in the process is poisoned - contaminated with biocides and carcinogens and bi-products.  A high percentage of that water (85%, I think) ends up buried in the earth, which these big oil companies consider "safe".  The poisoned water fills crevices in the earth, previously occupied by natural oil deposits.  But it's also filling up old manmade oil wells, many of which are super old and have been lost underground over the years, in which case they may potentially leak into ground water supply.  15% of the water shoots back up to the earth's surface and is absolutely positively unusable.  In other words, big oil needs to get rid of it.

Wanna know how they're dealing with it?  Well, in a few ways.  Some are trying to recycle the water.  Though there is no circumstance in which the water can be used to drink or irrigate after the fracking process, it can be used to do more fracking.  This is the best really crappy option out of several much crappier options.  At this point there is no state mandate on recycling fracked water b/c fracking was made legal before policy had a chance to regulate it.  In fact, the only reason it got through at the federal level was because in 2005 Dick Cheney and his crew of money hungry nature haters exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Believe it or not, in some states, this poisonous water is being pumped through sewage plants or sprayed on roads for dust control.  (((ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????)))

Water use and contamination isn't the only problem.  Fracking requires the use of heavy diesel trucks.  One thousand truck trips per site to be exact, and that's just to haul in the water.  Thousands more will be required to remove waste.  If there are 8-12 wells per drilling site...  well, you can do the math.  That's a whole lotta trucking in your backyard.  Yep.  Don't forget.  This is happening in your community.

Another problem is earthquakes.  This is a fact.  Lubricants are pumped into disposal wells, greasing up quake vaults and resulting in earthquakes.  There have been more earthquakes reported near fracking wells.  My concern here is this.  In that video that I shared above, produced by fracking supporters, you can see that steel tunnel coated with concrete boring into the earth.  If fracking causes earthquakes, do these people really think that steel tunnel is going to protect our drinking water during a big shake?  One crack in that concrete and our drinking supply is toast.  Plus, look at all the cracks oozing out of each fracture.  You think poisonous water can't slip through there???

Looks like Dick Cheney is going to be very rich and very thirsty.  I'm going out to buy 10 palates of Poland Springs TODAY.

I just don't understand why we're taking this risk.  Why we continue to rape the earth when there are other energy opportunities available to us that need exploring.  As Tony Ingraffea said On Point today, "A corporate business plan is not a national energy strategy."  Amen, brother.

We need laws.  We need regulation.  We need to use our voices to let our local and state politicians know that we DO NOT WANT FRACKING HERE IN OUR BACKYARDS!!!


Every state needs to work locally to stop this.  I'm in Massachusetts, and the news for us is good.  According to Atty. Peter Vickery, "Communities in Massachusetts have one important advantage over their counterparts in Pennsylvania and New York: Exploration is not under way yet, never mind extraction. That means towns like Amherst have time to design bylaw amendments that will both safeguard clean air and water and stand up in court."

Do it, people!  Call your reps, your mayors, your state senators today!  Let them know you do not want hydraulic fracturing in your backyard or in MASSACHUSETTS!!!!!

Peace, love, gratitude...  AND ACTION!