Rally around wind

Have you noticed that most people organize and rally behind something they are against, not something they are for? Thus, we have the anti-wind movement in Seneca County, not the pro-wind movement. It’s easier to be against something than to be for it.

Please consider this. Consider water. Yes, water. For the uninitiated, it takes an enormous amount of water to frack natural gas out of the ground and it takes an enormous amount of water to “clean” coal before it can be burned for electricity.

How exciting it was when natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels, began displacing coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Fracking, the technique of injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into shale to release the fuel trapped inside, uses 9.6 million gallons of water a day per well, putting farming and drinking sources at risk, especially in arid states and during a drought. As fracking wells expand, so does the use of water. Coal, as well, has an even more impressive record. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water used for coal washing and cooling of drilling equipment ranges from 70 million to 260 million gallons a day.

Fracking holds the potential for significant environmental costs, such as contamination of surface and drinking water and the leakage of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the environment. There are some communities that have experienced this contamination, losing their drinking water and sickening residents. Fracking wastewater is loaded with salts and metals, including radioactive gas called radon, thus making it a hazardous waste. So, what are we going to do with this toxic wastewater? It has to go somewhere. One plant, Eureka Resources, appears to do a pretty thorough job of getting contaminants out of wastewater, but even it has garnered some air-quality violations from the Environmental Protection Agency. No matter what, these plants have to deal with the sludge that’s left behind. Fracking is expensive enough, let alone the enormous expense of dealing with its aftermath.

Living in West Virginia 27 years, I personally have felt the devastation of mountain top removal mining. After exploding the top layers of rock and dirt above the coal seam on a mountain top, I have seen the resulting debris pushed over the mountain into an adjacent valley. I have seen some of the 2,000 miles of Appalachian headwater streams, some of the most biologically diverse in the country, completely buried by mountain top removal debris. My neighbors and I lost our drinking water the day the dynamite exploded and caved in our wells.

Coal has to be washed with water and chemicals to remove sulphur impurities before it can be burned in a power plant, and storing coal-mining waste water, called slurry or sludge, creates a significant hazard. If those slurry ponds break, disaster ensues. Cases in point, the Buffalo Creek Disaster, the Martin County, Kentucky spill, the East Tennessee disaster near Harriman, Tennessee, the Fields Creek, West Virginia spill. Google them, they happened.

Oh, but all this doesn’t happen in Ohio, doesn’t happen in Seneca County. “Oh no, that’s not our problem. I don’t live in an arid state.” Dear people, if we don’t wake up soon and realize we are all one people living on one precious planet and what affects one part of the planet affects us, we are guilty of treason against our creator, we betray the one who gave us the planet to care for and treasure. Can we afford to sacrifice so much of our precious water to wash filth, when there are renewable, clean ways to supply energy?

Think about the babies born today, what will they be facing in 2068 when they are a mere 50 years old. Do you want your grandchildren to know that you took steps back in 2018 to create a cleaner and healthier life for them, or will they be condemned to try and fix what we failed to fix. By then, is it too late? We have to think of future generations, not just our backyards, not just our county, not just our economics, not just ourselves. We have to consider water and the clean energy produced by the wind and the sun.

Sister Jane Omlor, Tiffin