Hey, Tom Shepstone, Fractivists Are People, Too

Open Letter To A Notorious Gas Propagandist 

Dear Mr. Shepstone:

I’m a fractivist and you don’t know me at all.

You are correct in only one of the seven sweeping generalizations you listed in your recent, hugely offensive blog post, Why Shale Gas Fractivists Are Doomed to Lose, NaturalGasNow, July 28, 2013. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but it’s actually not cool to catalog your dislike for people who don’t share your opinions, then list your misapprehensions like sociological observations. Please allow me to introduce myself…

1)  “The typical anti doesn’t have to earn a living off the land he or she insists on protecting.”   

I don’t live off my land, but every year my vegetable garden gets bigger and my carbon footprint gets smaller. There are many Pennsylvania farmers who are opposed to fracking. I’m discouraged by how much our family food costs have gone up, yet I’m willing to sacrifice in other areas to support local organic, non-GMO agriculture.

2)  “The typical anti has no long-term investment in the community as ‘home.’

My husband and I are have deep roots in our community. And we pay taxes. I live in the same Pennsylvania town where I was born.

3)  “The typical anti is one by nature – a natural born protestor.

Reared by arch-Republicans, I am now a disgruntled Democrat. I’ve always tried to conserve, but I never attended a protest before shale drilling came to Pennsylvania. I was actually pretty bad at it, at first. I’m not particularly fond of crowds, or shouting for that matter. I volunteer for local non-profits organizing to protect watersheds, land and air from industrial gas drilling, including: Protecting Our Waters, Delaware RiverkeeperPennEnvironment and Berks Gas Truth.

4)  “The typical anti has no children seeking jobs locally. 

I have children, and I’m completely in favor of liberating our economy from foreign oil and ending the endless wars. I suspect we see a very different future, and that our opinions diverge on which path to take. I think a Green Jobs Economy, without fossil fuels, is the only way to avoid devastating climate disruption.

5)  “The typical anti comes from an urban culture and knows little of how either their food or their energy is produced.

I’m not opposed to retiring antiquated coal-fired electric pants, and I would just assume we retire the Limerick Nuclear Generating Plant, too, since l live downwind and downstream of that behemoth.  I am very clear about where my energy comes from, and about the fact that it’s “cleaner” to burn gas than coal. But fossil fuels – extreme fossil fuels in particular – are truly a “gangplank”.

6)  “The typical anti tends to be artistic, emotional and guilt-ridden, rather than analytical.”

There are now more than 6,000 unconventional gas wells in Pennsylvania, and if you include wells permitted that number will skyrocket past 10,000 before long. I share the opinion of environmentalists like Van Jones, that our goal ought to be a mix of renewables delivered and generated over smaller, smarter electric grids. I get that we’re going to use shale gas in that mix, at least in the short term, yet I think it behooves us to leave most of it in the ground. The majority of Pennsylvanians agree.

58% of Pennsylvanians Favor A Moratorium

VIDEO: EPA Pulls Plug On Fracking Studies As Polls Show Support For Moratoriums

 I’m not artistic, and my emotions are generally reserved for family and close friends. My prevailing emotion is gratitude. Quite simply, fracking for shale gas creates a lot more methane in the atmosphere, and I find this very alarming. I read everything, pro- and anti-, and go to events whenever I can. I have no guilt though I certainly wish I could do more.

7)  “The typical anti is both unrealistic and uncompromising.”

I try to be realistic but, really, who’s to say? I think it’s unrealistic to pretend that cement and steel casings will last forever, especially when the industry’s own data show consistently increasing failure rates.

To your “more important point” – it has never been my intention to “prevail” over others and frankly I’m not “at war” with anyone. I have no idea what a “typical” fractivist is, and I doubt there is one.  I’m just one individual, tending my garden, and since Pennsylvania is my home, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

And I’m not going anywhere.

Liz Rosenbaum, KeepTapWaterSafe.org


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