The Irish—My Heritage—Said “No” To Fracking

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Friday Ireland’s government said, “Until the EPA study has concluded and there has been time to consider its findings, the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration drilling will not be authorized in Ireland.” Mr. O’Dowd, the Ireland Natural Resources Minister, is acting in a precautionary manner unlike the United States.

Taking a precautionary action, Mr. O’Dowd commissioned and funded three part study that will determine of fracking is harmful to the environment. He is concerned about widespread pollution especially of water sources where fracking will take place.

The studies include a geological study which will determine the impacts that fracking may have on groundwater and bedrock, seismic impacts, whether tremors, earthquakes or subsidence, and the third will be defining regulations around the fracking process. All of these studies are to be completed within 20 months.

Additionally the commission has asked for the public to suggest the terms of reference to be given to researchers. Wow, the Irish get a say in the study design and methodology.

Friday, Irish Eyes Were Smiling.

Other countries have banned the process as well, while the U.S. continues to move forward in ways the mimic the wild, wild, west. The cost of fracking in the U.S. has shown us that this extraction process is too expensive. We’ve seen environmental damages, poisoned water and water that ignites, health care costs increasing from victims as well as the migrant workers who are uninsured and use county facilities, lost land values and property values and the list goes on.

Not only is fracking moving forward at light speed compared to other industries’ ability to get permits and begin to set up their facility, the fracking industry has historically played dirty with communities by threatening, suing and attempting to undercutting local leaders credibility. However, the U.S. Frackers just recently said they’ll stop being bullies (my words not theirs) and try a new approach—civil communications.

In a strategy paper on combating the anti-fracking movement, analyst Jonathan Wood of Control Risks, a global consulting company, advised drillers to acknowledge that communities have legitimate grievances, in order to begin to repair a “crippling trust deficit.” Wood advised, among other things, openness, voluntary disclosure and “meaningful consultations” with communities, rather than “didactic information sessions to market the presumed benefits of drilling.”

Jim Cannon, whose job at Range focuses on local government relations has changed his ways. He recently said, “We’re probably more active listeners now, so we’re probably better able to hone in on what local governments need from us. A couple years ago, maybe we weren’t as sensitive to it. … Now we recognize how vital it really is.”

We’ll see if that happens. It is difficult to overcome “crippling trust deficit but maybe the companies can begin by taking down the bill boards along the PA highways that claim if you think fracking is dangerous “You’ve been Slimed.” I believe, and it has been my personal experience, that it will be difficult to come back from being a bully in the community to having people sit around the table and have a trusting meaningful conversation. It’s not easy after you have been beaten, robbed and violated to come back and trust those who did the nasty deeds.

The answer is for the industry to stop what they’re doing, not just be more open in communications, and follow the lead of the Irish and other countries. Step back, take a breath, take time to understand what you are actually going to do to communities, the environment, water sources and decide what to do based upon real studies, real science to determine how and if we should move forward.

Today I’m proud to be an Irish woman.

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