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Letter: We should be concerned

Your Oct. 9 editorial, “Time for fact finding on fracking,” couldn’t have been more timely. That very evening, the Sunderland Public Library, along with Sunderland’s Energy Committee, hosted an event titled, “Fracking in Western Mass.? What are the Facts?”

The program featured Dr. Steven Petsch, associate professor of geosciences at UMass-Amherst, and Peter Vickery, esq., an Amherst attorney with a special interest in environmental law.

According to Prof. Petsch, fracking (i.e. hydraulic fracturing accompanied by horizontal drilling) will not happen here for three reasons: 1) the shale layer in the Hartford and Deerfield Basins that extend into western Massachusetts is far too thin; 2) the shale is too fractured along fault lines for horizontal drilling to be effective; and, the clincher, 3) the shale is “over-mature,” meaning that it has been subjected to temperatures over geological time that would have caused any gas adsorbed in the shale to dissipate. As he put it, “Anyone interested in investing in shale gas futures in Massachusetts is about 180 million years too late.”

This is good news, indeed, considering that the other speaker, Attorney Vickery, argued that the current laws and regulations on the books in Massachusetts, as well as outright bans such as those enacted by other states, are unlikely to hold up in courts against legal challenges.

Still, as Mr. Vickery pointed out, 68 percent of the electricity in Massachusetts is generated from natural gas — all of it from out of state and much of it due to fracking. Just because fracking will not happen in our backyard doesn’t mean we should forget about it. It is happening in someone’s backyard, we are benefitting from it, and that ought to concern us.

(Video of the Sunderland event can be viewed at www.fcat.tv toward the end of October.)

AARON FALBEL

Sunderland

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