News and Observations from Tour de Frack
Protecting Our Waters is proud to post the news and views from Tour de FRACK (Freedom Ride for Awareness and Community Knowledge), a bicycle exploration of the communities and landscape where fracking is taking place.
After cycling over 400 miles, Tour de Frack arrived in the DC area this week to share personal first person accounts about living in the shalefields. They departed Butler County, in western Pennsylvania, on July 14th.
The riders passed through towns both small and large and held over a dozen events where they received overwhelming support for their message. “We are seeing the results of toxic fracking first hand,” said Jason Bell-one of the organizers of the tour “and we want to share or experiences with others so that they can stand up and fight frack.” Rural communities across the country are being turned in to industrial zones and often the decisions are made before the residents are even aware of what is happening. “One thing I hear time and time again from community members is that the industry just snuck in,” continues Bell. “If they had known they would have taken a stand but they didn’t and they have unfortunately found out that once you frack you can’t go back.”
Whether this is deliberate or not is unknown but Bell says that he’s aware of at least one instance in Butler County when the industry held a meeting far from their where their activities were taking place. “The frack well is being drilled in Jackson Township but the invitation-only meeting for those that signed was held in Lancaster Township. To many it seems like they were trying to keep the public in the dark.”
Although Bell has many examples of what can be described as industry underhandedness his main focus is the health and economic impacts of those impacted by drilling near their homes. “We’ve been collecting stories and many of the symptoms are the same.” Hair loss, rashes, and breathing problems are among the most common. He is calling for a national health study to study the problems but he fears that it is too late for many people that he knows. “I want protections put in place now, not after the next study or the next election but today.”
In the meantime he is working with local churches to provide drinking water to a dozen families in Connoquessing Township, Butler County, whose well water went bad after fracking started in their rural community, but it is hard it find funding. “We deliver 20-25 gallons a week to each home,” Bell said. Online donations to the Protecting Our Waters Emergency Water Fund, dubbed “Water LOVE” — Life’s Offering in a Vital Emergency — by the families it helps — go directly to provide water for these families in Butler County, in a neighborhood called “The Woodlands.” Nothing is taken out for overhead or labor costs, and it’s all tax-deductible. The fund is dry right now and the families are in need.
And here’s a video, previously posted on this blog, about the community and their experiences with fracking.