My Neighbor … and the Natural Gas Divide
Together we stood, when snows fell so heavy, and then we would work together to remove that heavy white stuff. We then relaxed over hot chocolate, sometimes sharing a glass of ginger brandy. We were friends! Together, we faced the challenges of raising children, as our children became best friends who would skin their knees in the fields and fall from trees in the forest, we would wipe the abrasions clean, and provide them with comfort, we were friends! We were good friends, until natural gas came onto the horizon.
My neighbor and I faced many challenges and overcame many obstacles together as neighbors often do because we were friends! I also thought I knew my neighbor, precisely because we were friends!
Then, something happened to my neighbor when natural gas became available in our area. It was as if night overtook day and the light of our friendship was darkened by the potential extraction of the natural gas under our homes.
Where we once stood together, we now became divided, but not by a rig, a natural gas well, a pipeline or any of those physical features that often become fences between neighbors. No, we were divided by truth and science, divided by fact and fiction. Normally, that would not end a friendship, but it did in our case! I look back at the debate today and it’s right there in front of me, every argument and every debate available on Google search conquers all the mis-information. Recent headlines from major news services tell the story:
“EPA: Pa. village’s water not polluted by gas fracking” – USA Today
“No ‘significant health threats’ found in Fort Worth air quality” – Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Shale gas is shaving bills” – Philadelphia Inquirer
“EPA Administrator Says Fracking Can be Safe” – International Business Times
“Natural gas drilling leases saving farms” – Scranton Times-Tribune
“U.S. study sees little earthquake risk from fracking” – Chicago Tribune
“Gas boom leads to opportunities for female construction workers” – Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
“Study: Fracturing no threat to groundwater” – Houston Chronicle
“Hydraulic fracturing is safe, key to energy goals” – Denver Post
“Natural gas drilling creates spinoff jobs in wildlife, software” – Associated Press
It seems as if every single one of the fears my neighbor bought into are just that, fears and not reality, plus he willingly blinds himself to the good news. Yet, even with the science, my neighbor chooses to believe in the brown water jug and I think I know why. After observing my 5 year old grandson watching TV, I realized he was more interested in watching cartoons than the local news!
Perhaps my neighbor should quit looking at the brown water jug and look into the litigants using the jug as a prop for their cartoon act. “Litigants,” of course, is the operative word that explains the motivation behind the cartoon! Still, it is the cartoon that attracts the attention, the cartoon that captures the imagination and the cartoon that gathers support … until reality eventually interjects itself into the equation. My neighbor isn’t there yet, but he’ll get there eventually. After all, you can only visit fantasy land for so long before the truth starts to call you home. Here’s hoping, because I’d like my neighbor back.