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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/

 

 

 

Helen Reddy and the cabbie from hell

I am happy to see that Helen Reddy, who popularized the anthem for the women’s movement in the 70’s, is coming out of retirement to resume her singing career.

I had an interesting encounter with Ms. Reddy, a long-time idol of mine, in 1996. My husband and I headed a community concert series in the 90’s and we chose Helen Reddy as our very first act to introduce our series to the community. We wanted someone with a big name and reputation to let the community know we were a legitimate group. We got more than we bargained for when we booked Ms. Reddy. She had a big name and a big reputation, at least among entertainment producers. She had a reputation for being a diva and difficult to please.

Preparing for opening night

We began months in advance making all the preparations for opening night. We plastered the town with posters; we rented a Lincoln Town Car for the weekend to chauffeur Ms. Reddy; we had a large welcome basket in her room with snacks and an assortment of teas since she would be arriving late; and the stage was decorated with plants, twinkling lights, and borrowed props making it look like something to rival Vegas.

A welcoming committee, which consisted of my husband, myself, and Frank the driver (who was a member of the concert series board), met her at the airport. Before arriving at the airport we nervously reviewed the plans. (We desperately wanted to make a good impression and hoped we didn’t look like the neophytes which we were.) After greeting her we would then escort her to the baggage claim area and wait for Frank to bring the car around. All he had to do was meet us at the exit nearest the claims area. It isn’t hard to miss because everyone gathers there to catch their rides or a shuttle bus. This sounds simple enough, but beware of simple plans. Ms. Reddy traveled with a single carry-on bag and did not need to go the claims area. This added a few extra minutes to our wait time so we took advantage of the time to get to know each other.

Beware of simple plans

We waited and waited (and waited and waited) but Frank never showed up. When more than enough time had passed John said he would go out to the curb to look for Frank leaving me to entertain Ms. Reddy alone. What do you say to a recording star, movie star, and multiple-award winner? After we had exhausted the small talk I notice her expertly manicured nails are impatiently tapping the handle of her suitcase. Meanwhile, John is avoiding the gathering storm clouds by waiting on the curb looking for Frank. I go out and tell him that she is nearly at the end of her patience and we need to do something—quick!

We decide to hail a cab for Ms. Reddy and John will look for Frank and meet us at the hotel. I tell her the good news/bad news that we have given up on Frank and will take a taxi. We crawl into a cab with a driver who barely speaks English and tell him we want the hotel that is nearest the airport. At this he shouts something, jumps out of the cab, and runs down the middle of the street waving his hands in the air.

The cab driver from hell

Ms. Reddy and I look at each other and she says, “Is he coming back?” I see the scene developing out the back window and have a sinking feeling. “I don’t think so,” I reply. Now what do I do? I have a travel weary diva on one hand and a crazed cab driver on the other. At that moment I see a security officer and run to tell him what has happened. He looks at the driver running down the middle of the traffic flow and says he’ll be back.

The cab driver finally returns mumbling unintelligent sentences. He gives us a lecture all the way to the hotel telling us we should have taken the airport shuttle bus. I tell him, in no uncertain terms, we didn’t want the shuttle but he totally ignores me. This episode has taken quite a bit of time and I expect to see John pacing the lobby of the hotel when we arrive but instead they pull into the parking lot just ahead of us.

While I was dealing with the crabby cabbie, John searched the parking garage for Frank the chauffeur. John found him standing beside the parked car with the trunk lid open waiting for Ms. Reddy to haul her luggage to the car. John was surprised to see us arriving at the hotel so late and asked what happened. “You won’t believe it,” I said. “We had the cab driver from hell.”

You learn from experience

Everything seemed to be working against us that night. Both drivers must have gotten into the same batch of spiked juicy-juice which made them a little crazy.  Our patience were tested but Ms. Reddy saw we were trying hard to keep her happy and make a good impression. She couldn’t have been nicer. She gave us a splendid performance the next night and the audience responded with a standing ovation.

 After this difficult beginning all other shows were easy. As they say, “you learn from experience”.

 

 

Meet my critters

 

I now know what the phrase suffering for my art means. My journey of creating my critters has been marked by blood, sweat, and tears—literally!

Countless pin and needle stabs resulted in big drops of blood which I quickly attended to so that the material wouldn’t be stained. I sweated over every detail, and, yes, there were tears—tears of fear and frustration. But now that they are finished I can say that it was worth the effort. They accurately portray the picture that was in my mind and that is an accomplishment for any artist.

This is the end of a long journey and hopefully the beginning of a new adventure. The pathway is littered with many rejection notices from publishers but I never gave up.  The publishing industry is in a state of flux these days with production costs ever-increasing and electronics taking it in new directions. With all these unknown variables publishers don’t want to take a chance on an unknown author.  Today, authors have to create their own stage or platform as they call it. I’m hoping my renewed creative efforts will eventually land THE BIG ONE someday. In the mean time, I’m having fun visiting with all of you on my blog and doing what I love—writing.

Now my books (teacher recommended for grades K-3) will come alive for the young ones. One day when I was working, my niece visited with her four-year old son and as we talked he played with all the birds scattered about the room, he lined them up on the ironing board and talked and sang to them. I hope this is an indication of good things to come.

Two of the books are about birds—The Beautiful Bird from Birdburgville and Robert Robin’s First Flight—and the third is about a flower, a late bloomer—The Sad Seedling. The Sad Seedling is planted in a pot on the cover which actually holds sunflower seeds compliments of de Monye’s Greenhouse.

For a fun time this weekend stop by Sunbear Gallery in Alexandria, Ohio on OH Rt. 37. It is just 10 miles east of New Albany on Rt. 161. Take the OH Rt. 37 exit towards Johnstown. For those not familiar with Alexandria it is a typical charming rural Ohio farming village midway between Granville and Johnstown.  We will be there the whole weekend Saturday 10 to 6 and Sunday 11 to 5.

Come for fun and be amazed by the art.  There will be live music, artist demos, door prizes, a children’s art auction, container gardens from Baker’s Acres, great snacks and antiques too!

When you are there be sure to stop by and say “Hello.” All my critters are freshly groomed and tagged and tucked into their nests waiting to say Howdy!

 

Below is a short synopsis of each book.

The Sad Seedling   

A flower is a late bloomer when its seed is planted in a dark corner of a crowded garden. When it blooms its only friends are the wiggly, giggly worms and the icky, sticky spiders until a new friend, Sadie the Ladybug, shows up.

 

 

 

 

 

 The Beautiful Bird from Birdburgville

A beautiful but vain bird suffers a terrible injury when a cat catches her. With the help of a friend who overlooks her deformities she learns to adjust to her injuries and live a normal life. (Based on an observation at my birdfeeder.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Robin’s First Flight

A young robin isn’t paying attention to his mother when she is teaching them how to fly. The result causes a BIG problem in Birdburgville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s March Madness, and I don’t mean basketball

The weather has gone crazy, mad in fact. Like most of the rest of the country we are having an unprecedented heat wave here in Ohio. It is March and we have had over 80 degrees the past week and have set all types of records. Daffodils are blooming and the flowering cherry trees and other ornamental trees have burst into bloom overnight.

We have a weeping cherry tree next to our back porch and every year it greets me with its beautiful blooms on my birthday, April 8. Without fail it pops open and is a special birthday gift from Mother Nature to me on my special day. This year my gift came three weeks early. It is now in full bloom and it is only the third week in March.

My birthday tree blooming three weeks early.

 

Last March when I wrote about our weather and welcoming spring I said things like– the snows begin to recede…tender shoots of crocus and daffodils pushing through newly thawed soil…the air is brisk with a hint of warmth….

This year after an extremely mild winter it seems we have gone straight into summer. Today it was 85 degrees which is about 30 degrees above a normal March. This is June weather, not what we normally have in March. So what do you do on a day such as this? You grab a friend, have lunch on a patio, and spend a leisurely afternoon in an art and antique shop—then, grab a camera.

Mother Nature may have gone crazy during this mad, mad March but she sure is beautiful. Unfortunately, the pictures below can’t accurately portray the beauty of the world today.

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I was sabotaged! Thank you very much

The morning before Election Day I eagerly go to my computer to post my newest and last blog regarding the fight against SB 5. Computer is working fine, I do some last-minute polishing of a piece I have been working on for several days and then press the button to post it to my blog—NOTHING!

I access my internet home page and the Columbus Dispatch but then it slows to a crawl and then a stop. I cannot access my blog and then I suddenly have no internet connection. Strangely, when I check my modem connection it shows 5 green bars but then there is an orange circle over it. I call my internet provider and am told they can’t send a technician for 3 days. Curiously, I find I can get back on the internet an hour before the polls close on Election Day.

Did someone deliberately block my internet connection? The internet technician came out today, three days after the event, and tested all necessary items. Bright green bars flashed across the screen. He tells me there is no problem with my internet or modem. In fact, very strong signals are coming my way. I ask him about the possibility of sabotage and he politely repeats that there is nothing wrong with my internet connections. He explains that many things can be done to create interference—even someone from China could have created the problem. Somehow I doubt that anyone in China could give a rat’s ass about Ohio politics, my writings and my blog.

Am I frustrated? Yes! Am I angry? No. I am not angry and in fact I have many things to be thankful for. So, I am taking this time to extend my thanks to the malicious culprit who tried to silence me:

  • ·         Thank you for giving me the opportunity to run several scans on my computer. Everything checked out OK with no viruses so I guess my firewall is working.
  • ·         Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reboot my computer and internet several times. I needed the extra exercise of crawling under my desk. I also found a few extra pens while I was down there.
  • ·         Thank you for the opportunity to talk with the lovely tech support people in India. I enjoy the challenge of interpreting their dialect mixed in with the background noise of a hundred other tech support people.
  • ·         Thank you for the extra glass of wine at the end of that day.
  • ·         Thank you for freeing up my time and allowing me to take advantage of a beautiful Indian Summer day and go for an impromptu drive through the back roads with my husband. It was a lovely day.
  • ·         Thank you for confirming that people are reading my blog. The events are too coincidental for make me to think it was anything else but objections to my blog. In addition, there is also the time you or your friends reported my blog to the Facebook people as being “abusive”. I must have made my points well.
  • ·         Thank you for including me in the list of those who were censored. That list includes: George Orwell’s 1984; Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer;  Adolph Huxley’s Brave New World; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Joseph Heller’s Catch 22; J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye; Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter; and many, many more. That is a pretty impressive list and I feel honored to join it.
  • ·         Thank you for showing your true, sadistic colors.

Although this was done anonymously, I know who you are. Your politics are different from mine so you are leaning to the right of the scale. You are obviously a fan of Gov. Kasich and feel he can do no wrong or you would not have found my words so offensive. You are a bully and a control freak; otherwise you would not stoop so low. You would, instead, wait until my blog is posted and then engage in debate under the comments section.

Unlike many other blogs found on the web, I have tried to maintain a sense of decorum and professionalism. I have not resorted to profanity or name calling which is found in many others. There is nothing “abusive” in my content other than a different point of view than your own. True followers of Notes from the Pond know that I encourage healthy debates and discussions. That has been one of my points during the SB 5 campaign—people deserve the right to come together to discuss the problems and work them out together. It is only through open minds and honest discussions can we find the answers to the many problems our state and nation are facing.

We need to be able to come together as one family around the table to look at our many needs and then find a workable solution that benefits everybody. This will never happen as long as there are some people so interested in their own self-serving needs that they feel they must stoop so low as to change the words of a grandmother as in Grandma Quinn or to try to silence a lowly blogger.

Finally, thank you, my friend, for opening my eyes.