Brainwash Complete: Dickinson Co-Ed Wants PA Severance Tax

A young college co-ed from Dickinson College has penned an editorial run in the Harrisburg Patriot-News proving what a valuable education one gets at Dickinson—where they teach kids that drilling destroys the environment. (Hint: You may want to re-think sending your children, and your money, to Dickinson College).

Here’s her "brilliance" on display (with snarky MDN comments inserted):

The environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used in Marcellus shale exploration are already known — as well as disputed — by scientists and industry leaders alike.

Scientists argue that the toxic chemicals in fracking fluid — up to three hundred tons added to a water and sand mixture — can pollute both aquifers and wells if it migrates into those areas.

[MDN: Which scientists, exactly, argue that it pollutes aquifers and water wells? And where is the science that supports said statements?]

Even the industry admits that only about thirty percent of the water injected into a well returns to the surface in a horizontal well. This is a huge amount of water that is wasted, considering that one frack requires about three million gallons of water, and they are able to frack one well multiple times.

[MDN: Care to compare the water usage by the drilling industry with other uses, which are much larger? Have you considered that the drilling industry is now starting to use acid mine drainage, cleaning up an ecological disaster in the state in the process?]

There are also concerns about spills at drilling sites, in which fracking fluid can run-off into natural habitats or surface waters and affect wildlife.

[MDN: Whose concerns? Where is it happening? Where’s the science?]

There is evidence that fracking can cause air pollution as well due to the diesel-powered machinery used on a site. In Pennsylvania, companies can frack wells within two hundred feet of an individual’s home.

[MDN: A non sequitur. Being 200 feet from a home doesn’t cause air pollution. Where is the science for fracking causing air pollution? What a general statement. Burning wood for a bon fire causes air pollution. Define what constitutes said pollution and how fracking exceeds that, if you can.]

After a frack, the fracking fluid is sometimes stored in a wastewater storage pit. Here, the fluid can evaporate into the atmosphere, also resulting in air pollution.

[MDN: Pits for storing fracking fluid are increasing outlawed in all states and will soon be a thing of the past. Even so, it’s the water that evaporates into the air, not the chemicals.]

With all of these potential environmental and even health effects of hydraulic fracturing, one might wonder why congress excluded natural gas extraction from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which includes the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act. The federal government is enjoying the current energy boom thanks to natural gas, but there are repercussions on both the local and national level. How can states use this land after it is abandoned by the natural gas companies without the necessary funds to clean up the environmental impacts?

[MDN: Better check again. Your argument assumes fracking, an oil and gas activity regulated by the states under the U.S. Constitution, should have been compromised and added to new legislation usurping states’ rights. Fracking never belonged to the Clean Air and Clean Water Act to begin with, so it wasn’t "exempted" from anything. The letter writer has a gross misunderstanding of the law and how it works.]

As we continue to exploit the Marcellus Shale formation’s natural gas resources, more issues will continue to surface. We must decide what to do when the fracking ceases. Who will be responsible for cleaning up the environmental degradation? Pennsylvanians are not responsible for these messes.

[MDN: Do we "exploit" the wind if we use it to harness energy? Do we "exploit" the sun for solar? Do you "exploit" coal, which created the electricity to run the computer on which you wrote this drivel? And who is responsible for your irresponsible opinions?]

In other states with shale gas formations such as Wyoming, Montana, and Virginia, there are severance taxes imposed on companies that use fracking for natural gas extraction. The industry must provide reclamation in these areas. Pennsylvania’s meek drilling impact fee has only raised about two hundred million dollars for recovery efforts, about half the revenue that a tax would collect.

[MDN: Ah right, the favorite tactic of all liberals–we don’t like it, so as long as it’s going to happen anyway, let’s tax the hell out of it. Classic liberalism/socialism 101. Must be the letter writer excelled in that class!]

We are only visitors on this planet, and it is our responsibility to protect the earth and leave it in the same condition for generations to come. Imposing a tax on those wishing to extract natural gas from Marcellus Shale is the first step to take to keep the planet healthy and help Pennsylvania’s economy.

[MDN: Imposing taxes doesn’t do a thing to preserve or protect anything–other than the political power of the left. Plueeze.]

With a severance tax in place, Pennsylvania will not need to charge taxpayers more to repair the damage. The state will also see an increase in revenue temporarily before cleanup efforts begin. Then, when the time comes to engage in recovery efforts, funds will be available. In the meantime however, the revenue could be used for environmental protection in other areas of the state.

[MDN: Yes, by all means, let’s play the shell game. Pull tax revenue from the places impacted and instead give it to places where it isn’t having an impact. Back to logic class methinks!]

As one of the largest shale formations in the United States, Marcellus Shale will continue to play a large role in the lives of Pennsylvanians.*

[MDN: Whoops! A little truth finally slipped out, near the end. How did that happen? Even the hands on a stopped clock are right twice a day.]

We must implement a severance tax to ensure that Marcellus Shale does not ultimately destroy the state’s environment and have lasting negative consequences. Pennsylvanians should not have to pay to clean up the environmental degradation inflicted in our state by energy leaders. Natural gas companies have the responsibility to aid in recovery efforts before they pack up and leave the state.

[MDN: An unwarranted conclusion from unsubstantiated and illogical premises. Glittering ignorance abounds in Dickinson, apparently.]

Katie Mattern is a graduate of Camp Hill High School and a freshman at Dickinson College in Carlisle.

    *Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News (Apr 14, 2013) – Pennsylvania should pass a natural gas severance tax: As I See It

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