Letter box


Saturday May 26, 2012

Fracking ban a mistake

Editor of the Reformer:

I think the ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and gas in Vermont is a mistake. I think this not because I am a geologist who likes to see wells drilled and holes dug for the information about the Earth that they provide, and not because Vermont might be slamming a door on some potential economic benefit, but because I don’t think oil companies can be trusted to behave themselves. If some oil company were to decide that it was worth their while to engage in fracking in Vermont, I am sure they can figure out a way to overcome a ban. Then they would be free to explore and develop, without restrictions.

I think that it would have been far preferable to pass a law spelling out what those restrictions are.

For instance, one of the controversies about fracking is whether or not it endangers water supplies. To deal with this uncertainty, the company could be required, before there is any drilling, to pay for independent analyses of all water sources that might be affected by exploration in a given area, thereby providing a baseline. Then, if contamination were to occur, its cause would be obvious and the oil company could be required to make provision for supplying potable water to the people affected.

For instance, oil companies claim that they have the technology to encase wells so that no natural gas or drilling fluids escape into the surrounding rocks. They could be required to use that technology and provide documentation, and submit to inspections, to prove that they have done so.

For instance, it is not widely reported but it is true that fracked wells rapidly decline in production and have to be re-fracked. This new fracking is done every four years or so, and can be done three times for a given well, yielding a lifetime for the well of about 16 years. That is not very long. At the end of the useful life of a well, the company could be required to restore the setting to something like its pre-existing condition.

Some people have suggested that the whole issue may be moot, because oil companies are not interested in natural gas exploration in Vermont. This may well come to be: the geologic setting of the gas-bearing shales in Vermont (essentially the Lake Champlain basin and surrounding area) is more complex than that of Pennsylvania or Texas or North Dakota, where major development has occurred, and the companies might be loath to take on the complexities here. Still, I think we can easily be lulled into a false sense of security in dealing with oil companies, and they are very powerful.

While a simple ban can give us that sense, it won’t protect us if the ban is broken, whereas a set of comprehensive conditions can.

John S. Warren,

Dummerston, May 22

Same name, different person

Editor of the Reformer:

A letter in the Reformer Letter Box on May 15 -- about the obesity epidemic -- was a very good one. The only problem is that my name is Karen Roberts, too, and I was not the one who wrote the letter. Today, May 17, I received a piece of mail pertaining to the Reformer letter. I will take it to the Post Office, but don’t know how it will reach the right person if her address is not available. Obviously they got my address from the telephone book.

It would be very nice if in the future you could also include the person’s street address with their letter. I am sure there are lots of people around with the same name!

Thank you.

Karen Roberts,

Guilford Street,

May 17

Editor’s note: While a good idea, many people do not want that type of personal information published with their letters. We do, however, typically require such information for a letter to be published.

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Support for Henry, Steak Out

Editor of the Reformer:

We are writing to express our support for Sean Henry, Betty and Mike and to say thank you for all the wonderful years of fine dining and wonderful service they provided this community at the Steak Out. It is indeed a great loss. We wish you good luck in your future endeavors, Sean.

The decision to close a business is such a difficult one, especially for a business so revered in this community. Unfortunately the trying economic times and competition from chain restaurants have been the major factors in this decision.

We are a little perplexed by the callous nature of the article written by the Reformer and printed on Thursday, May 17, with clearly a tone of negativity with regards to the gift certificates. It is complex and emotional enough to finally make a decision to close a business. Incorporating a negative spin is absolutely inappropriate and best left unsaid.

Wendy and Jeff Brewer,

Brattleboro, May 23

nuclear power

Editor of the Reformer:

Years ago when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was in Brattleboro, some guy kept pacing, then used an expletive that elicited a gasp of shock from the audience. That was seven or eight years ago, and I promptly publicly apologized and stated my lack of affiliation to any local or distant anti-nuclear organization.

Then about four years ago the NRC was here to tell us how great Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee was doing. I think it may have been another annual assessment meeting, and a dear friend tossed a handful of compost to the NRC delegates here, to symbolically represent what locals believe the NRC brings to Brattleboro.

On May 23 the NRC is had another open house.

Right now, U.S. made reactors melt down in Fukushima. The radio isotopes released to the air and water are potentially enough to threaten life as we know it for all future beings.

I want to hear the public gasping in horror to the NRC. I want to see the public here and throughout this country gasping in horror about the violation of our trust. Too cheap to meter has become too expensive to build today. Safe green electricity is only good until any accidental releases.

In other words, nuclear is not safe energy, nuclear is not clean energy and nuclear is not a reliable power source anymore.

Swear words and compost are not toxic and they do not cause cancer like radiation can.

In my horror I demand the NRC admit defeat. From my despair, I act with these words. The NRC must be held accountable and it must stop being the captive regulator dependent, cozy with the industry for its continuation.

Admiral Hyman Rickover, the "father" of the nuclear navy, and head of construction at the first U.S. nuclear power generating station, at Shippingport in Penn., stated to a Congressional committee at his retirement in 1982, "I do not believe that nuclear power is worth it if it creates radiation."

Rickover declared that we "outlaw nuclear reactors." This writer agrees with him.

Gary Sachs,

Brattleboro, May 17


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