Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why I Oppose Fracking

My forsythia in full bloom outside my house in Moncure


My number one priority in these aging years (I’m seventy-five) is to write, revise, and publish more books.  I also want to be a good human being and compassionate to others.  I am a self-actualizing woman.  I’m also aging well.  I keep my knees and feet going, and now I’m working on better balance.  I stopped eating sugar to slow down my osteoarthritis.  I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, more when the garden and orchard are producing.  I get enough sleep, walk six days a week, eat mainly organic food, most of which I’ve grown.  I now have organically fed hens.  I also keep my body going by farming work–shoveling, hoeing, planting, stretching to pick figs, re-doing the hens’ flexible fence, which is a gymnastic work-out.  I do lower back exercises, and now standing-on-one-foot balance exercises.  

I benefit both from the work of growing my food and eating it–fresh and organic.  I have creatures to care for–hens, cat, dog, and I feed the birds.  I love the changing seasons here in central North Carolina, though with new climate unpredictability, it’s harder than once to gauge when to plant and how to manage sudden extremes of heat and cold.  I’ve put in drip irrigation to help with droughts, more frequent now.

In the cold months, I use a chainsaw to cut my wood the size I need for my old wood cookstove.  Generous friends provide firewood and splitting, but sometimes I drag small dead trees out of my woods.  I find and cut up lightwood, the hard cores left of dead pine and cedar after the softer wood has rotted.  Many people help me, and I thank them by sharing my home grown food and homemade bread and jams.  My computer work, writing, and reading mental work is balanced by my physical farming work.

To be outside is to feel the sun on my back as I kneel to plant, to see the sliver of new moon in the darkening sky as I shut up the crooning hens for the night, to see the flash of the cardinal’s wings as he flies to the feeder, to rejoice in the sprawling forsythia bush blazing yellow, which I started and nurtured from four twigs stuck in the ground.  I live close to the magic of seeds and seedlings, so fragile, so small, to begin; then tall, sprawling, blooming, fruiting in the wink of an eye.  

I deal with frost warnings, tornado warnings, hens that get over their fence and into my precious vegetables; raiding possums and raccoons, voles that eat my carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes underground.  These are all normal problems as is my eking out my finances, watching pennies, wanting enough work to cover my basic needs but not so much that I can’t take care of my writing and publishing.

Then fracking reared its ugly head.  I’ve worked, since I moved to Moncure thirteen years ago against a seven-state nuclear dump, for safer nuclear storage at nearby Shearon Harris, against a multi-states landfill, against air pollution, for better, more forward-thinking county government, and now, after cutting back my activist work to write since the 2006 election, I am working against fracking.  Here’s why.  Can you see how my whole, carefully worked out lifestyle to stay healthy, do my writing, publish more books, and age well is at risk?  I am not the only one.  Others have different lifestyles and ways of coping with aging, but many people living in the twelve-county area where our North Carolina legislators are so keen to frack are at risk, as much or more than I am.

I have decided, however, not to panic, not to run, not to leave my little farm until I absolutely have to, but to fight, for myself and for my community.  If you want to help, let me know.  There are many organizations here and in other parts of North Carolina and in other states working against fracking.  Here are the reasons I am fighting against fracking in central North Carolina.



1.  Hydraulic Fracking [drilling with the use of water and chemicals until the shale breaks and the natural gas underneath is released and piped away] poisons our earth, our aquifers, wells, and air.

2.  The N.C. Legislature made fracking legal by 2014, when permits will begin to be issued.  Landowners do not have to sell mineral rights to have fracking occurring under their land without their permission.  This is called Compulsory or Forced Pooling and goes with the horizontal drilling.  Once they have one landowner’s permission, they can drill all around that landowner’s property.  Beware if they offer money.  They only need one landowner’s mineral rights to drill under all their neighbors.

3.  The companies doing the fracking don’t have to declare what chemicals have been used unless someone is about to die, so that medical treatment for illnesses that follow breathing polluted air or drinking polluted water, is handicapped.  Many of the chemicals cause cancer and some cause birth defects.  Doctors have to sign a non-disclosure statement before they can learn which of the 150 chemicals have been used.  They can’t tell even the patient.

4.  The main part of Chatham where these natural gas pockets are found is Southeast Chatham, including Moncure.  All citizens of Moncure will be affected even if fracking doesn’t occur next door because of the poisons released nearby into the earth, air, water.

5.  Fracking uses huge amounts of water, and in the summer we often have droughts.  Chatham is on voluntary water conservation year round.  Where will the millions of gallons of water per gas well come from to frack?  From our water supplies.

6.  Where will the chemically poisoned water be disposed of?  The Legislature is now trying to make it legal to inject it back into the earth.  

7.  Nowhere in the country has fracking been done safely, without people suffering illnesses, farm and wildlife animals dying.

8.  Fracking can set off earthquakes.  We felt an earthquake here which was set off up in Virginia a year or so ago by fracking.  Alabama recently stopped one fracking operation because of an earthquake.  We live on an earthquake fault, and Shearon Harris Nuclear plant is on that fault.

9.  Property values will drop, but it seems unlikely that people will be able to continue living in area where fracking has occurred.  We will be left homeless.  No one will pay us for having to leave our homes, nor could we sell them.  Where will we go?

10.  We do not even need this gas.  There are stockpiles of natural gas now.  The gas here in North Carolina in twelve counties, including Lee and Moore, is a relatively small amount, which will attract small, wild cat operators, who care even less about what happens to us here.  Mineral rights have already been obtained in parts of Lee County and southern Chatham.

11.  I don’t see this as a political issue.  Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, I would think you wouldn’t want any fracking to occur near you or under you.

12.  The fracking companies can also put down a large pad for the drilling on nearby property and run pipes across your property, without your permission.

13.  I can’t see how the wonderful sustainable/organic agriculture, which has flourished for some years in Chatham, will survive this fracking, which also adds to greenhouse gases and uses the water we need for farming.  What will happen to local food supplies?  Agriculture is still very important to the N.C. economy as well as tourism.  What will happen to Jordan Lake?

14.  Given the present movement in the legislature to hurry and frack, without another vote, without waiting for the committee set up to make rules (though it is stacked with industry people), we have only people power.  

15. Town and county governments who oppose fracking can be by-passed.

16.  There are better ways to provide Americans with the energy we need.  Spend the money to research and establish wind and solar alternatives that do no damage to our health and homes.

17. Put up a sign, write your representative and senators in the legislature, to the members of the forced pooling study group, the governor, and talk to your neighbors.  If enough people protest, we can stop it, one person as a time. 


  1. Judy , thank you for writing this blog . I have followed your blog for a while ...finding it through Chatham Chatlist .
    I run a facebook page called "Lee Co NC Say No to fracking" I have shared your blog there , twitter and also at my blog too.
    I too came out of retirement from an activist to become a full time fractivist . I was very content taking care of my yard & blogging about gardening ,nature and peace . Now I feel as though my peace has been taken from me, with the threat that fracking brings to the people of this world . I have 5 grandchildren here in NC that are too young to stand up for themselves so for this reason I must stand up for them. I am still saddened the most that there are so many people out there believing the government will keep us safe ?
    The profrackers stress fracking has went on for a long time. the facts show there has only been a High volume of Hydrofracking/slick water fracking since 2005 increasing each year now . With not nearly enough proper regulations or regulators to protect us ?
    Fighting greed over need is turning out to be a very hard struggle.
    Again Thanks for speaking out !
    peace terica

  2. Thanks for commenting, Terica. I also came back to activism after focusing for 7 years more on my writing. Glad to know you. If you will email me at, I'll add you to my no-frack list. I'm learning a lot from Chatham activists, and I get the Lee county emails. We can win, but it is hard. Judy Hogan