Friday, July 27, 2012

Zen Temple in Pennsylvania Confronts Fracking

Modern slickwater fracking is a mere 15 years old, but it's negative impact on the planet has already been too much for my taste. While the oil and gas industry is making billions of dollars, and claiming to be producing numerous jobs, they're poisoning our water and soil, destroying landscapes, and pushing the vast majority of the profits straight to the elite.

Fracking is a way to keep the old energy paradigm in place. Instead of investing in renewable sources, and changing the way we live to be more in right relationship with the Earth, fracking promotes more of the same. Even as ice caps melt, wild weather sweeps the planet, and even the more skeptical of scientists drop their resistance to global warming, the oil and gas industry trudges on with their 19th century views of the world.

Over at Turning Wheel magazine, there is an open letter about a Zen temple in central Pennsylvania sitting in the heart of a fracking project. Having witnessed the devastation first hand of decades of mining and strip mining in Western Pennsylvania, where part of my family is from, I find myself wondering if there is any section of Pennsylvania left untouched by the oil, gas, and coal industries. The people, animals, and land have paid a high price for the jobs "provided" over the years. My own relatives worked on the railroads for over a century, driving the coal out of the mountains. Kind of epic, but also bloody tragic.

Here's a selection from the open letter. Please go read the rest of it at Turning Wheel.

Mount Equity Zendo is located in the small rural village of Pennsdale in central Pennsylvania, twenty minutes from Williamsport, now called the “Dallas of the north,” the hub of the state’s natural gas fracking industry about 2 hours north of Harrisburg and 3 hours west of Philadelphia. The Abbess, Rev. Dai-En Bennage, trained over fifteen years in Japan at various monasteries before founding Mount Equity Zendo, near her native home of Lewisburg. Fifty members come from 2 to 4 hours away to attend monthly sesshins or other practice events at Mt. Equity.

Mount Equity Zendo is included in the serious threat from the slick water hydraulic fracturing process, known as “fracking,” in the Marcellus Shale. This very deep deposit of rock spans several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Marcellus Shale contains the largest deposit of natural gas in the United States, an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet, the equivalent of 80 billion barrels of oil. Averaging a mile below the earth’s surface and below the water table, it is now being mined due to new technology that allows fracking, to political pressures to develop our native natural resources, and to diminishing oil supplies.

Slick water hydrofracking was developed by Halliburton and others, and requires up to 9 million gallons of fresh water per well. This water is mixed with dangerous chemicals including benzene, biocides, and hydrochloric acid, which make it “slick” so as to dissolve shale and release natural gas to the surface.

I also encourage folks to offer their views on fracking to public officials and local leaders.

You can support the greater community around Mt. Equity Zendo through the following:

For those who want to help, Mt. Equity Zendo is not asking for personal aid for themselves, but for assistance for their endangered surrounding community. The most effective place in the region to send donations to increase public awareness about fracking is the Responsible Drilling Alliance [], a fine informational resource. Buddhists are also encouraged to contact Mt. Equity Zendo’s national representatives in support of the area’s environment so these representatives know that people outside are watching. Please contact:

Senator Robert Casey, 202-224-6324, [].

Senator Patrick Toomey, 202-224-4254, [].

Representative Tom Marino, 570-322-3961, [].

For more information or to express support, contact Dai-en or Daishin at [].

I also encourage people to research your own communities as well. This is happening all over the place these days. And something has to change soon, before these companies poison everything in their wake.

1 comment:

Rick Smith said...

Excellent! Thank you, sir!