Since late April or early May, one could say that “frack” has become a four-letter word in St. Tammany. Of course, it actually has five letters and the word is the crass short name for the process of hydraulic fracturing, which we are told has been practiced safely for over 60 years. In fact, it was invented by Halliburton, the company responsible for the concrete sleeve that failed at the BP offshore platform, Deepwater Horizon. With litigation ongoing from that incident, it is not difficult to imagine a skeptical public, dismissive of reassurances from the Parish and the operators (in this case, Helis Oil and Gas Co.) that safety is of utmost importance with regard to onshore operations. The citizens of St. Tammany have consistently attended public discussions of the proposed operations for the last several months, resulting in standing room crowds at various forums and council meetings. In response to a genuine need for substantive information, a small group of dedicated volunteers have secured a location in downtown Covington to help educate the public on issues raised by hydraulic fracturing.
Fracking 101 is located in the Frederick Building right next to Shop Soul Boutique on Boston Street. You will find current documentation regarding social, environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing from current and past operations across the nation. There was no scientific basis for objection for many years, mainly because no studies existed, and the industry was exempt from regulatory agencies thanks to the “Halliburton Loophole.” The amount of information available today is both staggering and conclusive, and the kind folks at Fracking 101 have put it all together for you to view. Contrary to media coverage that has a tendency to marginalize those opposed to fracking, the opposition consists of caring and dedicated citizens of various professional backgrounds who are weary of being mislead by their local governments and lobbying groups.
Private groups like the Northshore Business Council regurgitate numbers with regard to the Oil and Gas Industry’s contribution to the region, while neglecting the growing disillusionment of corporate welfare. Also ignored are the problems that arise from food and medicine that is intertwined with the petrochemical industry, with the taxpayer ultimately paying the price. In fact, the Louisiana State Legislative Auditor’s Office recently issued a report highlighting the inadequacy of the very agency that supposedly regulates the industry (and just so happens to issue the permits for operators), the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and Office of Conservation, offering no less than 20 separate recommendations for improvement. That is just one of the many documents available at Fracking 101. Learn more at fracking-101.webs.com. – Timothy Gates is a musican and correspondant for Covington Weekly. Photos by Chelsea Cochrane. email@example.com