Tilting at Windmills

January/February 2012 A bad trade

By Charles Peters

Do you know how much water is required by the drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”? The answer, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Russel Gold and Ana Campoy, is that each well requires “about six million gallons.” This technique, which the EPA recently found had polluted the water of one Wyoming community, is used to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale that underlies my home state of West Virginia. The natural gas industry contends that whatever damage to the environment the process causes, including harm to the water supply, it will be more than made up for by the jobs created. But it now appears those jobs will be in other states.

The Charleston Gazette has discovered that the plant Chesapeake Energy will use to process the gas—the plant that will be the major source of jobs—is to be located not in West Virginia, but on the Gulf Coast, with a pipeline transporting the gas.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.

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