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.