Reflections on the recent EPA Fracking Report from STFA Advisory Council Member Jenny Lisak

Below is the reflections of STFA Advisory Council Member Jenny Lisak on the recent EPA fracking study that came out. In that study, the EPA claimed that there was no widespread impacts of water contamination from Fracking. Please Take action by signing on to this letter with her as we tell the EPA we need them to stand up to the Oil and Gas Industry.
This past week the EPA released its long awaited water study on the impacts of fracking. This led to claims from the oil and gas industry spin machines that the study proves once and for all the process is safe. As the fracking movement responds, I wanted to offer the perspective of someone whose water has been contaminated, whose neighbors’ water has been contaminated, and whose family has become a sacrifice for an industry that doesn’t care for our health or the environment.

fracking-pa-1_650x366My dream in life has always been to own a small organic farm and that dream has been a reality for the past few decades. We had all we needed and something precious that many of us have taken for granted and that is clean air, pure water and a sense of security in our home and rural community.  I never thought that sense of security could be taken from us so easily but that occurred when the Marcellus industry moved into my rural community in Jefferson County, PA. The first Marcellus well in my township fouled our air and contaminated our water.  Things went from bad to worse when I lost two beloved pets due to illegal dumping of fracking fluids. Our country roads became thoroughfares for toxic waste moving to and from, gravel trucks, sand hogs, trucks carrying chemicals and all sorts of odd looking machinery. My world was turned upside down. I went from being a contented organic farmer providing quality produce to family and community members to being a mother desperately fighting to protect her children from a toxic, explosive, out-of-control industry.

This study came out of the efforts of this necessary movement that I have become a part of. We fought hard to get the EPA to do this study and it is finally done. Although it is in no way comprehensive and hasn’t brought the response that we expected- that this practice must cease, this study does shine light on many things.

  1. When we put pressure on the EPA they responded. We have been campaigning for them to support communities like mine and others around the country, and finally they are echoing what we’ve known all along: fracking contaminates water.
  2. This study is by no means conclusive. The sample size was too small and it only focused on a small aspect of the process. They did not take into account the hundreds of violations for the discharge of pollutional materials into the waters of the commonwealth or the violations for improper storage and disposal of waste in my state of Pennsylvania.  The EPA should have come to test my water and my neighbors’ water. They should go test the water in West Virginia where Diane Pitcock lives and where eleven of her neighbors’ water has gone bad and they are forced to use water buffalos all the time.
  3. The industry control of the EPA is unconscionable. They refuse to cooperate and didn’t share all the needed data. Their processes and ingredients are secretive. They quickly jumped at the chance to take one sentence out of context to fit their needs which must be easy when you have billions to fight against farmers trying to water their crops. The study might say the phrase “not widespread” but their data suggests otherwise.

Reading this study was like reading The Little Engine that Could. They kept saying “we think it can, we think it can” only to arrive at the top of the hill and get scared to say the words “It did”. The EPA needs to know that we will not give up on our families and communities. We will do what we need to do to ensure that our water is safe for our loved ones to drink; through pressure, call-in days, or through blocking the doors to their buildings if necessary. The last I heard ours is government by the people for the people, the EPA  needs to do the right thing for me, my family, and all the communities who have been assaulted by the oil and gas industry.

This report is just a part of the long struggle forward to building a world that doesn’t see depressed areas as rural resource sheds but integral places with the same worth and same love for their children as anywhere else. Everyone should have the same basic rights to clean air and water and a future on a habitable planet. Energy policy MUST be based on healthy people living in healthy communities.

Jenny Lisak

Stop the Frack Advisory Council