Fracking Attacks the Fuelers of Economy: From Canada to Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvnia farmer points to a continuing issue with the fracking industry in an upcoming Public Herald 2014 report about fracking and the small farmer. © J.B.Pribanic

Pennsylvnia farmer points to a continuing issue with the fracking industry in a 2014 upcoming Public Herald report about fracking and the small farmer. © J.B.Pribanic

Op-Ed by Jennifer Chesnut

On Thursday an editorial appeared in the Erie-Times “Can Erie’s economy gain from fracking?” but failed to mention the impact fracking is having on the health of workers who fuel the economy.

I’m a Canadian on holiday in Erie, and I attended a local showing of the investigative documentary Triple Divide — a film that documents Pennsylvanian experiences with fracking. Farmers, from places like Potter and Bradford Counties, shared stories of dangers they faced when exposed to waste or wastewater from fracking: such as fevers, rashes, and enlarged spleens.

I don’t know much about Pennsylvanians, but you seem like a friendly bunch that extends kindness to strangers easily. After hearing the stories of your local people in Triple Divide, I have much worry for your farmers and the communities they serve. Some farmers expressed concern about the safety of their milk, when their cows got sick and drinking water wells showed high rates of carcinogens like methane, barium, strontium, and radon.

Pennsylvania and my province Ontario have something in common. We both have a rich agricultural tradition. Farmers are precious in any region. They keep healthy food on all our tables – the most essential fuel for a strong workforce.

There are approximately 58,000 farms in Pennsylvania. That’s a large contribution to the economy. I would imagine many Pennsylvanians want to keep farmers and water supplies safe for everyone.

Luckily, there are well-known energy alternatives to fracking that create work, and support human health and the environment. For the sake of the economy, now seems like a good time to inquire about what else is possible.

  • Thank you Jennifer for coming to the Erie screening of Triple Divide, and for sharing your thoughts about fracking and it’s very important relationship with agriculture.

  • Jennifer Chesnut

    Let us build a culture of critical dialogue across North America to protect our water, our people, our earth. As our water bodies are intimately linked, and indeed the Pennsylvanian rivers empty into the Great Lakes of Canada, one frack on either side of the border, is one frack too many. Thank you for your strong voices!