Situation Normal: All Fracked Up, Ny Times, 11/17/11

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1. The stakeholders of Range Resources (RR) are widespread from anyone affected by the economy and the environment in relation to RR’s activities. More directly, the stakeholders range from employees of Range Resources, the employees and officers of federal and state agencies regulating RR’s activities, to the populations in local and distant communities that are either benefiting from the products of RR’s activities or suffering from the byproducts of the same activities. Stakeholders also include the consumers of the natural gas, and the future generations who may reside in the areas affected by the fracturing (“fracking”) process. At a higher level, RR has a responsibility to follow state and federal environmental rules & regulations as well as any other laws that are applicable to operating their business. However, the article evokes more specific perspectives of several individuals that were almost surely adversely affected by their drilling/fracturing operations in close proximity to their residence. Although the environmental agencies and RR themselves seem to mostly skirt around accepting any direct responsibility – the medical reports and environmental evidence suggests that elevated pollutants do exist in their area. RR had made attempts, albeit meager, to remedy some of the situation by putting the family up in temporary residence and providing drinking water, I don’t think the company nor the environmental agencies have done enough here to compensate this particular family. 2. I think that if I lived in Amwell, my perspective would definitely depend upon whether or not I was on the winning or losing end of the financial vs. environmental and health impacts. Most seem to benefit from the economic gains of the drilling and most of the locals do not seem too concerned about the environmental impacts. The story centers around one family that is adversely impacted in lifestyle, health, and financially because they can no longer live in their house. I think as a long time resident, struggling financially, it would be very hard to not accept the financial gain. However because there is an appreciation for the beauty and history of the land there and a culture of agriculture, I would be skeptical of the environmental impacts and would expect that the government agencies responsible for environmental regulation are doing their part to ensure that RR is adhering to safe and healthy practices. 3. There is a history here and a trend that shows this type of activity is harmful to the environment. I don’t think the government agencies have done enough to research the long term impacts to the environment or to the health of those in the vicinity. Complaints have been lodged by residents and the article also points to the Army Corps of Engineers having to clean up a river damaged by similar activities because of complaints lodged by a steel mill. It seems to me that more attention needs to be paid by the controlling agencies so that proper restrictions are put in place and proper procedures are upheld to minimize the impact of these drilling activities before the damages become more widespread. The cost to the government in providing more restrictions and oversight could be minimized by in turn taxing, penalizing, and charging fees to the industry partners that wish to take part in the fracking operations. I also think that RR themselves and other like-industry partners have an ethical responsibility to pay more attention to the environmental impacts of their operations. They could certainly spend a percentage of their profit on more internal research to find better and safer processes for drilling and controlling the waste byproducts. In turn this could make their company a more attractive partner for the communities to embrace for business. Right now it seems that the complaints of the few are not being heard among the masses. The majority of the people involved with the harvesting of the natural gas are simply caught up in...
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