scharrison's blog Comments Fracking farms, fracking our food supply A startling expose via The Nation: Schilke’s troubles began in the summer of 2010, when a crew working at this site continued to force drilling fluid down a well that had sprung a leak. Soon, Schilke’s cattle were limping, with swollen legs and infections. Cows quit producing milk for their calves; they lost from sixty to eighty pounds in a week; and their tails mysteriously dropped off. (Lab rats exposed to the carcinogen 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent used in fracking, have lost their tails, but a similar connection with cattle hasn’t been shown. In people, breathing, touching or consuming enough of the chemical can lead to pulmonary edema and coma.) An inveterate label reader who obsessively tracks her animals’ nutritional intake, Schilke couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Neither could local veterinarians. She nursed individual cows for weeks and, with much sorrow, put a $5,000 bull out of its misery with a bullet. Upon examination, the animal’s liver was found to be full of tunnels and its lungs congested with pneumonia. Before the year was out, five cows had died, in addition to several cats and two dogs. (A feline autopsy came back inconclusive, but subsequent hair testing of cows, cats and dogs revealed sulfate levels high enough to cause polio in cattle.) Inside Schilke’s house today, where the china cabinets are kept empty for fear of a shattering drill-site explosion, nearly a dozen cats sneeze and cough, some with their heads tilted at a creepy angle. The relatively small number of animals reported sick or dead invites the question: If oil and gas operations are so risky, why aren’t there more cases? There likely are, but few scientists are looking for them. (“Who’s got the money to study this?” Colborn asks rhetorically.) Rural vets won’t speak up for fear of retaliation. And farmers aren’t talking for myriad reasons: some receive royalty checks from the energy companies (either by choice or because the previous landowner leased their farm’s mineral rights); some have signed nondisclosure agreements after receiving a financial settlement; and some are in active litigation. Some farmers fear retribution from community members with leases; others don’t want to fall afoul of “food disparagement” laws or get sued by an oil company for defamation (as happened with one Texan after video of his flame-spouting garden hose was posted on the Internet. The oil company won; the homeowner is appealing). And many would simply rather not know what’s going on. “It takes a long time to build up a herd’s reputation,” says rancher Dennis Bauste, of Trenton Lake, North Dakota. “I’m gonna sell my calves, and I don’t want them to be labeled as tainted. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to test for. Until there’s a big wipeout, a major problem, we’re not gonna hear much about this.” Ceylon Feiring, an area vet, concurs. “We’re just waiting for a wreck to happen with someone’s cattle,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s just one-offs”—a sick cow here and a dead goat there, easy for regulators, vets and even farmers to shrug off. Hat-tip to LofT for the link. Frightening stuff but hey, North Carolina is heading back to the 1930s, the more fossil fuels we burn, the better. Right? What's a little bit of sea-level rise when there's money to be made from drill-baby-drilling. Seems to me that our species is devolving toward the dark ages in a frenzied fit of ignorance and stupidity. Needs a face We need to put a face on fracking now that it's going to come to NC - and I believe this needs to be the face associated with it.... http://ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/members/viewMember.pl?sChamber=H&nUserID=616 Good idea. Maybe two faces. Click these faces.