(Dr. Ronnie Schenkein is a veternarian. She owns Coudersport Animal Health Center.)
I am looking out the window at a network of twigs, branches and trunks of bare trees against the pale blue early morning sky.
Last night I saw a map of the aquifers of the United States, blue lines against a brown background, a network of creeks, streams, tributaries and rivers that covered most of the land. I learned that our local Rose Lake in Andrews Settlement comes up from underground and flows outward to two rivers, the Chesapeake and the Ohio.
I learned that through amendments to the Clean Air and Clean Water acts made during the Bush/ Cheney administration, the natural gas industry is exempted from having to disclose what chemicals they are putting into the ground.
I learned that they are putting formaldehyde-like and benzene-like chemicals into the ground, which are potent carcinogens, and other substances which cause mutations. I saw footage of many people setting on fire water in their faucets and in streams. I saw water congealing into plastic when lit. I saw methane bubbling up out of the ground, causing a stream to appear carbonated. I saw tap water showing up radioactive with a Geiger counter.
I saw cattle on ranges where the water they drink is contaminated by toxins. The meat from these cattle will be eaten by people.
I found out that the people affected by this contaminated water could get no help from government agencies because of the law and because of budget cuts.
I heard from County Commissioner Paul Heimel that our county has no authority to regulate or control this type of activity in our county. I learned that authority has been taken away from local offices and put in the hands of bureaucrats who are unaware of local conditions and may have no motivation to protect local citizens. Those who care have their hands tied because of laws and funding.
I was appalled by the recent Supreme Court decision that corporations can contribute unlimited amounts to electoral campaigns. Now it seems that whoever has the most money controls the flow of information and what legislation gets passed or enforced.
The word of today is no longer, “We the People,” but “We, the Corporations of the United States of America.” And I am in deep grief over this.
What happens here at the headwaters of three rivers flows a long way over the country. Everything we do is connected. We need to be mindful that we don’t, in our efforts to gain energy independence, poison ourselves. If we don’t have wholesome water to drink, we won’t need terrorists to finish us off.