David Kagan Speech
Corning, April 27, 2012
Hello to all of you environmentally aware and environmentally caring people and to any media folks who are here. My name is Dave Kagan, and I’ve come to tell you what life is like now, where I live along Pine Creek in northcentral Pennsylvania, a state that I am now sorely ashamed of.
In our PA State Constitution, Article 1, Section 27, it states, “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has made a mockery of the words in this section of its constitution. Deciding to wed and then bed with this predatory corporate Marcellus Shale gas hydraulic-fracturing (in short, fracking) industry, at first our past Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and now our Republican Governor Tom Corbett and the majority of our legislators have allowed our forests and agricultural lands (and now even our residential areas, with the recent passage of the notorious, gas-friendly, so-called Act 13) to become the backyard of a chemical works.
New Yorkers, be very, very, very strong in your resistance to this awful fracking industry.
If New York allows fracking for natural gas, the invasion will begin with seismic testing, including the laying of miles and miles of cable and recording machines throughout your mountains, farm fields and communities, and along and across your roads; with eardrum-splitting helicopters overhead for months, transporting supplies and hovering over your mountains and homes to read seismic images.
If New York allows fracking, you will suffer intensely from the noise, dust, diesel pollution, traffic congestion, accidents and road damage caused by hundreds and hundreds of industry trucks (huge 18-wheelers, tri-axles and white pickups) on your roads every day (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for years), carrying fresh water, fracked water, sand, stones, all the excavating machines, well pipes and supplies necessary for digging the wells, and the downed trees stripped off the land for the industry’s wellpads and access roads.
If New York allows fracking, you will see your forestland exploited, stripped of its trees to make way for the many wellpads, water and gas pipelines, holding ponds and tanks, and access roads. Wildlife and plant territories and boundaries will be disrupted; hiking trails interrupted; hunting areas made off limits.
If New York allows fracking, you will see an increase in litter and, sadly, dead wildlife along your roads.
If New York allows fracking, you will suffer from spills both at wellsites and from trucks traveling along your roads, both by accident and by intent, of highly toxic brine/frack water.
If New York allows fracking, you will see an increase in erosion and the resultant sediment in your streams, rivers and lakes.
If New York allows fracking, you will see withdrawals of billions of gallons of fresh water from your waterways, fresh water that will be lost forever in the bowels of the earth.
If New York allows fracking, you will see landlords, out of greed, raising their rents up to triple what they had been, causing severe hardships to your citizens, especially the poorer and older.
If New York allows fracking, you will be saddened by seeing families and friends split apart by the omnipresent greed, people hoping to become rich in this gold rush atmosphere.
If New York allows fracking, you will have to tolerate lights at night from the wellsites, hampering your view of the stars.
If New York allows fracking, you will see an increase in crime, especially on weekends.
If New York allows fracking, you will see every available space taken over by the industry (including sections of restaurant and other business parking lots, trailer courts—with the residents evicted, your neighbor’s yard, previously empty and green areas along your roads), where equipment, machinery and pipes will be stored; where truck staging areas will be located.
If New York allows fracking, you will worry constantly about your and your family’s health, from potential pollution of your water, to methane and diesel emissions, to spills from wellsites, holding ponds and trucks.
If New York allows fracking, you will cry in the night, from being awakened by the rumbling trucks, from your nightmares about this nightmare industry.
If New York allows fracking and you value a tranquil lifestyle, loving relationships, a vital connection to the environment, and care for anything more than money in this world, you will be shocked, saddened, angered and frustrated to see all this fractured by the Marcellus Shale gas hydraulic-fracturing industry, predatory corporate capitalism at its absolute worst.
Many have told me that it is useless to try to fight against this terrible industry, that it can’t be stopped, that the money involved is so great that nothing can be done.
Well, a long time ago, Ecuadorian poet Jose Olmedo wrote, “He who does not hope to win has already lost.” And 17th century French essayist La Rochefoucauld said, “Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient WILL we should always have sufficient means; it is often merely for an EXCUSE that we say things are impossible.”
New Yorkers, work as hard as you can to stop the fracking industry from ruining your land and lives. And always be very proud of your striving against an industry associated with greed, pollution, death, the exploitation of the earth, and a parasitic relationship with Nature; of your having taken, instead, a firm stand in support of a living, loving, symbiotic connection of man with the natural world.