It seems like just last week that a bunch of Serious Men in Suits came to Philadelphia to tout all the wonderful things that natural gas drilling -- a.k.a. fracking -- was already bringing to the Keystone State. Really? I'd advise them to tell that to Beth Voyles' dog -- were it not for the fact that the dog has already up and died. Here is the reality of gas drilling -- as opposed to the fairy tale that was marketed at the Pennsylvania Convention Center -- in an explosive report from ProPublica about growing health problems tied to fracking here and in three other states.
In September 2009, Range Resources began drilling a natural gas well near the home of Beth Voyles in one of the most heavily drilled counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. The following spring, Range began filling a giant waste impoundment near Voyles' home, and wastewater accumulated in puddles on the dirt roads, where the water was sprayed to hold down the dust, according to a lawsuit Voyles filed against the state and interviews with ProPublica.
The family immediately noticed a stench, and its dog, which lapped the fluid from the puddles, got sick. A veterinarian determined that the dog had been exposed to ethylene glycol, a component of antifreeze that is also used in hydraulic fracturing. The dog's organs began to crystalize, and ultimately failed, the vet told Voyles, and the family had to euthanize the dog. A short time later the family had to euthanize a horse after it exhibited similar symptoms, Voyles told ProPublica. "If it's crystalizing their organs," Voyles said of her animals, "just how long before it's going to do that to us?"
Then the whole family started getting rashes, aches and blisters in their noses and throats. Her doctors couldn't pinpoint what was causing their symptoms. "You feel like you're drugged because your brain's not thinking," she said. "We want our life back."When Voyles began to suspect drilling might be the cause, she had her doctors run blood tests for hemicals known to be used in the processes. The results came back showing high levels of benzene, toluene and arsenic.
Read the whole thing -- and then ask Tom Corbett if he has any other plan for "jobs, jobs, jobs" that isn't going to kill your family pet.
(Photo of Susan Wallace-Babb of Texas taken by Erin Trieb for ProPublica)