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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Nature vs. Natural Resources—The Case For and Against Fracking

Genesis 1:1-31  

        God made the heavens and the earth and it was good.

 

Genesis 2:15  

        Humans are commanded to care for God’s creation.

 

Natural gas, hydraulic fracturing, fracking, foreign oil dependency, shale gas, Utica Shale, Marcellus Shale, energy independence—these are all words that have been in the news a lot lately.

Whether you know it or not these topics are also entering the presidential and senatorial campaigns. All of these terms relate to the relatively young natural gas industry in our country. An abundance of natural gas is hidden in the Utica and Marcellus Shale predominantly found in the eastern part of the United States, the Appalachian mountains, and in the eastern part of Ohio. How this industry develops will have a huge impact on our country, state, and local towns in many ways whether environmentally, financially, or politically. Many people with deep, deep pockets behind the scenes stand to gain a lot with the development of this industry and they are counting on the general population to remain ignorant about the topic.

Hydraulic Fracturing Panel Discussion Oct. 1—Franciscan University

Fortunately, if you live near the Steubenville, Ohio area you will have an opportunity to review the topic and ask questions of those involved in the industry. Students for a Fair Society will host a two-person panel on the costs and benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing, Monday, October 1 at 6 pm in the Tony and Nina Gentile Gallery of the J.C. Williams Center at the Franciscan University.

Panelists include Dr. Yuri Gorby; Howard A. Blitman, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York; and Father Neil Pezzulo, of Glenmary Home Missioners in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Panelists will touch on the industry’s benefits, both short and long term, to the economy – its costs, with a special focus on the poor and vulnerable – and to our health and the environment, helping the audience come to their own conclusions.

Students for a Fair Society is a group dedicated to upholding the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in its fullness. Concerning ourselves with matters of life, solidarity, and justice….

The event is free and open to the public.

My introduction to fracking

I first became aware of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” as it is commonly called, through the documentary Gasland. The documentary paints a scary picture of an environmental disaster created by this new industry. It is filled with images of dead and dying animals, people with unexplained illnesses, and water faucets that spew fire when a flame is held next to the running water.

What happened to the EPA?

As a citizen I was outraged that these things should be allowed to happen. How could it happen when we have the EPA and the Clean Air and Water Act? As a journalist my instincts led me to research. I found that the Clean Air and Water Act does not apply to the fracking industry because of the infamous Bush/Cheney Act of 2005. Then Vice President Dick Cheney was successful in inserting an exclusion that exempted disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process claiming it disclosed proprietary formulas. Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton which is one of the largest companies providing hydraulic fracturing services to gas companies.

What is in these chemicals? Why don’t the companies want to reveal them?

From citizen to crusader

The crusader in me then turned to my keyboard to inform my readers of what I see as impending doom—especially since our own state is blindly pushing ahead so it can reap its portion of the buried treasurer. Some estimates say Ohio alone has enough oil and gas below our surface to equal the size of Saudi Arabia. I wrote extensively about fracking (see the listings below) but I was haunted by the feeling that I still wasn’t finding the heart of the topic. Or, at least, I hadn’t yet defined it in my own heart.

Slowly I realized my repulsion for this new industry is because I view it as an attack on Mother Nature. It is not just because of the gallons of unknown chemicals that are forced underground but what these chemicals are doing to our environment. The oil companies claim their process is safe and the chemicals are encased in steel and concrete and there is no way it can seep into our water supply. Yes, and that is the same explanation that was given before the BP oil spill in the Gulf a few years ago.

Also, millions of gallons of water are needed to frack a well. To frack a well, chemicals mixed with sand and water are forced into the well under pressure which then breaks apart the layers of shale and releases the gas trapped between the layers. The mixture that comes to the surface, known as  brine, contains unknown chemicals, sand and water and must be disposed of safely. Since it is a toxic soup it cannot be discarded into streams or flushed into the local wastewater system which goes through the sewage plant. Experts say the only safe way of discarding the brine is to put it in underground abandoned wells and mines. However, this is less than ideal because they are finding the underground storage is causing earthquakes.

Where does the water come from for the process? We are talking about massive amounts of water. The companies are taking it from the local lakes, rivers, and streams. Are we sacrificing one natural resource for another?

Gas and oil are the blood of our country

I realize we need gas and oil. Our country’s livelihood depends upon our transportation system. We need gas and oil to manufacture goods and then transport them to their destinations. Whether by land, water, or rail, all forms of transportation need gas and oil to run. People who depend upon these jobs need gas and oil to be able to go to and from their work. Yes, the blood of our country is gas and oil. I understand we need it for a healthy commerce.

However, something else we need is clean water and air. Without these two elements we are not able to sustain life. Wars have been fought over safe water supplies.

Native Americans revere the earth

In examining my feelings on this topic I first turned to the philosophy of the Native Americans who I knew respected and revered all of nature. I have often thought that if the white man had listened to and respected the beliefs of the first Americans and their worship of nature; we would not be in the environmental mess we are today.

Our first obligation is to protect our most precious resource—our Mother Earth who gives us life. The Native Americans viewed our earth as a living and breathing entity that is holy and is to be worshipped.  A Native American chant says:

Where I sit is holy
Holy is the Ground
Forest , mountains, rivers
Listen to the Sound
Great Spirit Circling
All around me 

Grant Redhawk of the Balckfoot Nation (AKA Two Feathers) said:

Air moves us
Fire transforms us
Water shapes us
Earth heals us
And the circle of the wheel goes round and round
And the circle of the wheel goes round…

As a child growing up in West Virginia one of my favorite Bible verses was Psalm 121– I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. To me this meant that since I was surrounded by the beautiful hills of West Virginia surely I was also surrounded by the Lord who made heaven and earth. It gave me a sense of peace knowing that my help came from my God who manifested himself in these majestic hills and surrounded me constantly.

The Catholic Church’s view of the environment and seven generation thinking

When I saw that the Hydraulic Fracturing Conference was being hosted by the Students for a Fair Society of the Franciscan University I did some research to know more about the organization. Keith Michael Estrada, who is coordinating the conference, was kind enough to send me more information about the Society, the Conference, and the official stand of the Catholic Church on the environment. He said that the Church’s official teachers, the Bishops, point to a strict care for all of creation, temperance and fairness when using the goods/gifts of the earth, and a constant keeping in heart and mind the future generations who will inherit the land.

I was struck by the similarity to the philosophy of the Native Americans who refer to “seven generation thinking.”  In the Native American world, where life is viewed as interconnected, every decision has physical, economic, social, and spiritual consequences, and all these impacts must be carefully considered. This interconnectedness is what Native Americans refer to as “seven generation thinking,” says Ivan Makil, former president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and a partner in Generation Seven, a consulting firm that specializes in advising tribes on appropriate economic development considerations.

The environment is God’s gift to everyone….

Estrada also included the quote from Pope Benedict XVI… “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. . . Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other….” from Charity in Truth.

Estrada also included a quote from the late Pope John Paul II:

Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. . . . Man, who discovers his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work, forgets that this is always based on God’s prior and original gift of the things that are. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray.  Instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him.  On the Hundredth Year

Are we poisoning Mother Earth

So I am finally able to more clearly define my concerns and reservations over the fracking industry. Without more information, guidelines, and regulations it appears we are poisoning our Mother Earth. We are endangering our own health and possibly the lives of future generations for the greed of more fuel for today. We are rushing into an unknown future and selling our souls and laying them at the altar of money and greed. We could possibly be giving up abundant clean water and fresh air for progress.

Creation reveals the nature of God

Who would think that a mountain Methodist girl from West Virginia could find clarity from the Native Americans and the Catholic Church? Who would think that these extremely diverse entities would have a common ground? The answer to the dilemma of nature vs. the need for natural resources is as close as a walk out our front door into God’s creations. Creation reveals the nature of God (Romans 1:20). Creation and all created things are inherently good because they are of the Lord. (1Corinthians 10:26)

Another source of inspiration and reassurance of God’s omnipotent powers speaks to me often and that is the old hymn This Is My Father’s World. I pray that we will be able to maintain the purity of God’s world.

 

This Is My Father’s World

1.            This is my Father’s world,

               and to my listening ears

               all nature sings, and round me rings

               the music of the spheres.

               This is my Father’s world:

               I rest me in the thought

               of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

               his hand the wonders wrought.

2.            This is my Father’s world,

               the birds their carols raise,

               the morning light, the lily white,

               declare their maker’s praise.

               This is my Father’s world:

               he shines in all that’s fair;

               in the rustling grass I hear him pass;

               he speaks to me everywhere.

3.            This is my Father’s world.

               O let me ne’er forget

               that though the wrong seems oft so strong,

               God is the ruler yet.

               This is my Father’s world:

               why should my heart be sad?

               The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

               God reigns; let the earth be glad!

 

 

WHAT THE FRACK IS ALL THE FUSS OVER NATURAL GAS?

Published on May 24, 2011 by Sheila Dobbie in Current EventsNature

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/05/24/what-the-frack-is-all-the-fuss-over-natural-gas/

 

Editorial: Question mark

Published on May 25, 2011 by Sheila Dobbie in Current EventsNature

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/05/25/editorial-question-mark/

 

Fracking brings risk Ohioans should avoid

Published on May 25, 2011 by Sheila Dobbie in Current EventsNature

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/05/25/fracking-brings-risk-ohioans-should-avoid/

 

The Fracking Song

Published on May 27, 2011 by Sheila Dobbie in Current EventsNature

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/05/27/the-fracking-song/

 

What the Frack Is All The Fuss Over Natural Gas (Part 2)

Published on May 27, 2011 by Sheila Dobbie in Current EventsNature

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/05/27/what-the-frack-is-all-the-fuss-over-natural-gas-part-2/

 

What the Frack? The battle heats up

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/06/14/what-the-frack-the-battle-heats-up-2/

 

Senate OKs ‘fracking’ in parks

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/06/20/senate-oks-fracking-in-parks/

 

Ohio taking in flood of Pennsylvania’s toxic brine for disposal

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/06/20/ohio-taking-in-flood-of-pennsylvanias-toxic-brine-for-disposal/

 

Is natural gas a windfall or just fool’s gold?

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/06/30/is-natural-gas-a-windfall-or-just-fools-gold/

 

Editorial: Due diligence | The Columbus Dispatch

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/06/30/editorial-due-diligence-the-columbus-dispatch/

 

Fracking Fray Still in the News

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/08/09/fracking-fray-still-in-the-news/

 

More news on fracking

http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/2011/08/11/more-news-on-fracking/

 

 

 

Friday Night Excitement

My grandson, Adam Notestine, continuing a long tradition.

Fall is here. There is a nip in the air, trees are beginning to show tinges of red and orange, and that aroma in the air is brats sizzling on the grill at tailgate parties.

It has been a long time since I attended high school football games. A few things have changed with the times but the basic excitement of gladiator proportions still exists.

The sound of the band and the drums start the heart racing. The cheerleaders do their best to capitalize on this adrenalin rush with rhythmic stomps, thumps, and yells. Then the team runs on the field clad in their form fitting uniforms with lots of protective padding underneath and new state-of-the-art custom fit helmets. All sorts of protective measures have been taken to shield the player as he fights for his school and hometown’s honor.

The fans are packed into the stadium wearing a wide assortment of paraphernalia reflecting their team’s colors. They cheer and moan and groan depending upon their team’s success. Officials wearing black and white uniforms are positioned around the field to ensure a fair and safe game. However, the fans sometimes see their calls as more of an interference or nuisance and voice their opinions accordingly.

It is a grueling fight to the finish and we can only pray that all players escape the game with no serious injuries. But football has always been a violent sport. It dates back to the ancient Greek game of harpaston and is mentioned in classical Greek literature as a “very rough and brutal game.” The rules were very simple and similar to today’s game. Points were awarded when a player crossed a goal line either by kicking the ball, running across it with the ball, or throwing the ball across the line to another player.

In the United States the Native Americans played a game similar to football and it was reported that the settlers in Jamestown also played a similar game with inflated balls. Modern day football has its roots in rugby and soccer. It resulted from some major rule changes instituted by Walter Camp, considered the “Father of American Football”. Among those changes were the introduction of the line of scrimmage and down-and-distance rules.

I might be a bit different from most women. I love football and always have. I even understand it. Some of my earliest memories are of my father and uncle sitting in front of a small black and white TV screen yelling and screaming. I married a former player, coach and scout who takes his sport seriously. So much so that he never yells or screams at the TV and never cusses out the officials. However, I have seen him so disgusted that he says he is giving up on his Buckeyes—that is until the next game.

I live in the middle of Big 10 territory and the Ohio State Buckeyes. This area is rich in football history not only for the Buckeyes but Columbus was also the site of the first NFL headquarters. I frequently pass through Portsmouth, Ohio and go past an ancient, inconsequential looking concrete stadium; however, this was the home of the Portsmouth Spartans (which later became the Detroit Lions) and is the sight of the first professional night game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1930. Famed Jim Thorpe played here when the team was the Portsmouth Shoe-Steels. I also live a little over 100 miles from the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Yes, like so many other Americans I love football. It gives me a tingle up my spine to watch my grandson run onto the field ready for battle in this ancient sport. A sport steeped in tradition and history. A sport that creates more energy than a nuclear blast. A sport young boys dream about and old men remember fondly.

My grandson Adam at age 9 examining my nephew Andrew Thornburg’s Furman football jersey. I think that jersey would fit now.

 

Confessions of a reformed Republican

 

 

I have been a Republican most of my voting life. When I turned voting age I proudly marched down to my voter’s registration office and put my name on the rolls as a Republican.

I come from a long line of Republicans on my mother’s side and my father was the lone Democrat in a family of red-white-& blue blooded Republicans. I had the mistaken idea that Republicans were always right and the Democrats were so liberal they were almost communists. I don’t believe in voting a straight ticket but I had the philosophy of when in doubt vote Republican.

Disillusioned and disenchanted

The transformation was gradual and I’m not sure exactly when I changed, or if I did change. I don’t think I changed so much as the Republican Party did. The shift began sometime in the middle of George W. Bush’s reign term. The campaign and insistence of Bush to invade Iraq to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction had something to do with it. So did his “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 when, clearly, the mission was not accomplished and many years of war were ahead.

I became cynical when I saw vice president Dick Cheney pull the strings from behind the scenes and interfere in areas that benefited his company, Halliburton. Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. He retired from the company during the 2000 U.S. presidential election but still received stock options and other payments from the company. During his term as vice president, Halliburton was allowed to bid unopposed on government contracts. Cheney is also responsible for the infamous Bush/Cheney loophole of the Clean Water Act. Halliburton is a prominent player in the relatively new fracking industry and Cheney was successful in eliminating a disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. They claimed it prevented competitors from stealing their formulas but it also exempts these companies from having to meet strict EPA regulations and endangers the water supplies.

I became even more disenchanted when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. She is an embarrassment to the female population. She makes a good cheerleader but is ignorant of political and foreign affairs and basic fifth grade history.

Mitt the Twit

I thought the current presidential Republican candidate would be more intelligent and informed but it looks like he came out of the same mold as Palin. His trip abroad this summer, which was intended to showcase his foreign affairs savvy, only made him look more foolish. The Brits began calling him Mitt the Twit because of his blunders. Who in his right mind goes to our long-time ally and insults them by saying they are not ready to host the Olympics on the eve of its opening? He then went to Israel and insulted the Palestinians with a comment about their “culture”; and, as an equal opportunity abuser, he insulted the Jews by referring to a stereotype of the Jews.

Romney further exhibited his incompetency in foreign affairs by issuing a statement regarding the attack on our Embassy in Libya calling Obama’s handling of the violence “disgraceful” and accusing the administration of sympathizing with the attackers. He was too quick to jump to the party line of portraying the president as always apologizing for the U.S.’s actions and made a fool of himself in the process.

In addition to individuals within the party I am also upset with the Republican Party as whole for their stand on women, birth control, and no abortions in cases of rape and incest. The party wants to set back the women’s movement to the 1950’s when women stayed home, cooked, cleaned, wore house dresses with pearls (think Harriet Nelson in Ozzie and Harriet), and never had an original thought. In addition, the middle class and below is looked down upon as evidenced in Romney’s latest comments about 47% of the people not wanting to work or pay taxes and sponge off the government. The party has become the party of the 1% and the “wanna be’s”; that is, those who want to be part of the 1% and think that some of it will rub off on them if they vote Republican.

Mind polluting and propaganda spewing

And we can’t forget the plundering, pontificating, mind-polluting, propaganda-spewing duo of Limbaugh and Beck. Nothing more needs to be said about this Republican self-promoting tag team.

Compounding these issues is the Tea Party and the “religious right” who think they have all the answers and if you don’t agree with them you are not only wrong but also ungodly and un-American. The way the party is now I don’t understand how any middle-class American, woman, minority, or disadvantaged can vote Republican.

I looked around and thought, “What the hell is going on? This party does not represent who I am or what I believe.” At that moment I woke up and became a “reformed Republican.”

Reformed and rehabilitated

Yes, I am now a proud reformed, rehabilitated Republican. The party took a sharp right turn and left me in the middle of the road seeking my own path down the center between far-right Republican extremism and bleeding-heart liberal Democrats. I think I will start a third party called the RRA (reformed rehabilitated Americans). It is open to disillusioned voters of all parties who want to restore integrity and sanity to our government. Anyone with me?