“It killed the cattle, and it’ll kill the people next.” – Terry Greenwood on Fracking
Landowner’s Rights Trampled
A fracking company representative sat in Mr. Greenwood’s kitchen in 2007 and asked him if the company could frack for natural gas on his land. The state of law being what it is, Mr. Greenwood didn’t have the legal “right” to refuse (the country having become what it is – a place where corporations pillage us as they did Vietnam, Iraq, Ecuador, and a hundred other places); but he told the company man he would fight for his property, for his rights. The company man told him he didn’t stand a chance, that he didn’t have enough money to fight the fracking giant protected by Dick Cheney’s Halliburton loophole – which exempts frackers from any meaningful regulation as well as the clean water act. The fracking man knew his act was sanctioned and promoted by local, state and national government “Yes” men whose jobs depend on genuflecting to the money.
Fracking contaminates Ground Water
A month later, the drilling had contaminated the well from which Mr. Greenwood had drawn water for himself, his pets and his cattle for the previous 20 years. The fracker then threw him a bone – not out of the goodness of its little black heart, but at the behest of county “regulators” (Read: Industry lapdogs). It drilled five water wells, none of which produced drinkable water.
Fracking Spill Kill – A Farmer’s Luck
After a fracking spill the next year, ten of 18 calves born on Mr. Greenwood’s property were stillborn. One that survived was born blind, another with a cleft palate. The next Spring, Mr. Greenwood’s lone bull, which would normally sire at least nine calves a year, became sterile. The Department of Energy told Mr. Greenwood, “That’s a farmer’s luck.”
Fracking Kills Animals First, then the People
“It killed the cattle, and it’ll kill the people next,” Terry Greenwood said in an interview.
The fracking industry can, of course, count the ways Terry Greenwood’s brain cancer death can be explained away – farmers have a high incidence of cancer, anyway; brain cancer is growing as a cause of death across the country (a phenomenon entirely unrelated to fracking, of course); his rare cancer was only coincidental with the fracking; Erin Brokovitch would need 20 years of studies to prove that people living next to frack sites are at a greater risk for cancer, etc. – but there are other fracking deaths that cannot be so easily explained away. Like several people who died after drinking water from their own well, which was contaminated by fracking chemicals.
Fracking drives Cancer Clinic Boom
Texas Cancer Clinics are opening facilities at a record rate near fracking operations all around the Barnett Shale. Business is great for fracking and for the ever-growing cottage industry built on cancer, which, even those in the industry now admit is caused mainly by environmental toxins, some of the most hazardous of which fracking spews daily into our air and water – hydrogen sulfide, methane, biammonium fluoride (insert your personal favorite here) – in the name of bringing us jobs (in numbers hugely exaggerated by industry) and clean fuel to help curb global warming (an outrageous lie of which methane releases from fracking operations prove to be a lie). Clean water, meanwhile, which fracking uses and wastes by the millions of gallons, is more valuable than oil. This is not hyperbole. It is fact. Ask the Pentagon, or T. Boone Pickens, or Halliburton, all of whom or which are quietly acquiring whatever aquifers are not being rapidly destroyed by frackers.
Water more Important than Gas
“Water’s more important than gas,” Greenwood liked to say. “Once you ruin the water, you don’t have nothing left.”
Terry Greenwood as Street Preacher
For a punch line, Terry Greenwood, with his poet’s beard and haunted, melancholic eyes, looks like one of those homeless street prophets so easy to ignore when you’re coming out of a Starbucks, say, or on your way to shop for some shiney new s***. I will just hope, along with you, that he’s not a prophet; but I won’t bank on it. “Smart” investors will put their cash in fracking operations and cancer clinics, then pray that they live long, healthy lives themselves.
They won’t think about the poor bastards living downwind of the money.
by Ken Jones
Fertile farms poisoned by its chemical swill
Ranch land ruined as the cattle fall ill
Against these Mother Earth despoilers stands
Cases won by The Matthews’ Firm Hand.
Kiss our air goodbye to its hydrogen sulfide
Into the ground flows the methane –no place to hide
Now these first verdicts can open debate
Give us hope the rape can stop before it’s too late