‘The Power of Big Oil: Part 3 – Delay’

In addition to a tornado warning —that had us eating supper in our basement at 6:00PM Tuesday evening— the third segment of this PBS Frontline documentary aired later that same evening. I recognized a couple powerful allies in the oil & gas air pollution and methane awareness arena: Tony Ingraffea and ‘Texas Sharon’ Wilson, seen in this photo using a $90,000 FLIR camera for Earthworks, to record air pollution at oil and gas sites that’s invisible to the human eye.

While this third and final segment of the documentary did an excellent job of recounting our nation’s grindingly slow move to renewable energy, while tripling-back to further fracking through several presidential administrations, the environmental tragedies of massive water ruination, and a 1600 year radioactive waste legacy, were totally absent, so it definitely fell short in those regards.

Of course, my earliest concerns about local Marcellus Shale drilling and fracking, focused solely on water pollution, since our Monongahela River drinking water source was contaminated 13-years ago, by river dumping and coal mine seeps, creating trihalomethane spikes in our public water system. An odd chemical (Acrylonitrile) that had turned up in 50% of water well tests near early fracking around Hickory, Pa had also appeared in our home’s public water. Not one of the 80 items they’re required to test, the water company said.

  • Dumping fracking waste, that underwent slight processing before going into the Monogahela River, at the McKeesport water treatment plant. They were also dumping at the Clairton POTW.

How ironic that these two events would occur within just 4 hours of each other on Tuesday evening, since we have rarely had serious tornado warnings over the past decades, and never had one that actually moved us to shelter in the basement. Needless to say, we’ve been lucky! Whether it’s climate change, or these ongoing environmental concerns and radioactive shale legacies, the political stage is set for them to worsen in 2022, as we take baby steps toward renewables, while ramping-up fracking for LNG exports and the Shell cracker plant opening.


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