Cover Story: The Gas Menagerie

Cover Story: The Gas Menagerie by Paul Hond, Summer Issue Columbia Magazine
Immediately after Susan Kraham and her colleagues filed for an injunction against the zoning provision of Act 13, the industry pushed back. “The gas industry moved to intervene in the case and become a party,” says Kraham. “The judge said no. The head of the senate and the head of the state assembly also moved to intervene, arguing that they had a ‘real interest in the court getting the law right.’” The judge said no. … Rock Zierman is on the line. He’s the CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association…. And in California, he says, which has a lot of earthquakes anyway, there is room for plausible deniability: “If a frack caused a few earthquakes, it’s easy to say, ‘Well, I don’t think we’re causing these earthquakes. You have no proof.’” Proof, or the lack of it: a big theme in Gasland that continues to play out. Andrew Kirchner, the law student studying waste disposal in Pennsylvania, recalls seeing puddles of tainted water outside a house located downhill from a well pad. Residents claimed their drinking water contained heavy metals. “It makes sense that elevated arsenic levels in people’s well water would come from the fracking, but can you prove it? And a lot of these people can’t,” Kirchner says. “Getting your well tested can cost thousands of dollars. No one tests until there’s a problem. The gas company can then say, ‘Do you know what your water contained before?’”

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