Is there something strange in your drinking water?
Okay, so technically the name for EPA's new hotline isn't Gas Busters. It's the 'Eyes On Drilling' Tipline. But with all the scary stuff happening in the gas fields these days, I couldn't resist.
Folks in the oil and gas fields: if you see suspicious activity related to oil and gas drilling, call EPA at 1-877-919-4EPA (toll free number) or email email@example.com (This is the non-emergency number. For emergencies, stick with 911.)
Why does EPA need a hotline for suspicious gas drilling activity? Good question: These days, the gas industry has a new method for drilling gas. It's called horizontal hydraulic fracturing. And if it sounds scary, that's because it is. They take millions and millions of gallons of clean water, spike it with toxic chemicals, then blast the water thousands of feet beneath the ground into horizontally drilled wells, blasting the gas out of the rock pores. Some of the polluted water comes back up through the well. The rest stays in the ground, migrating who knows where.
Because the drillers are polluting water faster than existing water plants can treat it, people are legitimately worried about illegal dumping. Say you're at home, pouring yourself a nice, tall glass of water from the sink, and you look out the window and see a water truck coming from a nearby (or faraway!) drilling rig. They pull up to a local creek, and dump a few million gallons of suspect liquid into your favorite fishing spot/swimming hole/drinking water source. That'd be a good time to call Gas Busters. 911 too.
We hear EPA is taking these tips very seriously. So if you see something, remember to call 1-877-919-4EPA or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Folks in New York are hoping things don't get to that stage. On Monday, people from all over the state gathered in Albany to remind lawmakers they need to keep New Yorkers safe from proposed drilling in the state's Marcellus Shale deposit.
The drilling lobbyists got wind of it and quickly staged a counter-rally. But the day clearly belonged to everyone who loves clean, fresh drinking water. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who was visiting Albany, as much as said so.
My favorite sign from the rally: "You Can't Drink Money." You can see pictures of the day's activities here and pick your favorite sign here.
And if I've managed to lodge the Ghostbusters theme song in your head, I know for a fact that the only way to get rid of it is by rewriting some gas drilling lyrics for the next rally in Albany and everywhere else people are fighting to protect their drinking water
A prize to the most clever!