The complex world of Shale

New Yorker Christi Everitt (pictured) is an environmentalist, who owns a solar power plant and a greenhouse garden. She is pro-fracking because natural gas burns cleaner than coal. In contrast, Susie Beiersdorfer of Youngstown went to work for an oil company right out of college. Her grandfather also started a company selling supplies to oil companies. She is now a fervent opponent to fracking.(Shee Wai Wong/TheNewsOutlet.org)

A NY environmentalist wants fracking, former mudlogger opposes it

New Yorker Christi Everitt (pictured) is an environmentalist, who owns a solar power plant and a greenhouse garden. She is pro-fracking because natural gas burns cleaner than coal. In contrast, Susie Beiersdorfer of Youngstown went to work for an oil company right out of college. Her grandfather also started a company selling supplies to oil companies. She is now a fervent opponent to fracking.(Shee Wai Wong/TheNewsOutlet.org)

New Yorker Christi Everitt (pictured) is an environmentalist, who owns a solar power plant and a greenhouse garden. She is pro-fracking because natural gas burns cleaner than coal. In contrast, Susie Beiersdorfer of Youngstown went to work for an oil company right out of college. Her grandfather also started a company selling supplies to oil companies. She is now a fervent opponent to fracking.(Shee Wai Wong/TheNewsOutlet.org)

There are two sides to every story. But in the world of fracking those two sides may not always be clear-cut.

Take for example a woman in New York. She’s an environmentalist who is pushing her state to allow fracking.

Then there is an Ohio woman whose family has worked in oil drilling for ages. After college, she worked as a mudlogger in the California oil fields. She is vehemently opposed to fracking and is pushing her state to ban the practice. Lee Murray brings us her story.

But first, Rachel Lundberg fills us in on why a New York environmentalist wants fracking in her state.

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It doesn’t take long for Christi Everitt to cross into frack-country. Just a few minutes in the car – four or five miles – and this New Yorker can walk a drill pad in Susquehanna County, PA.

(Footsteps on a drilling site is heard)

A concrete drilling pad is where the equipment fractures the rock, fluid is forced into the earth and gas is extracted.

Everitt, who runs her own solar power plant and a greenhouse garden, calls herself an environmentalist. She also sees that fracking brings jobs to Pennsylvania, and wants New Yorkers to get a piece of that. 

You know, we’re sitting here with our hands tied. We’re sitting here with an economy that’s all but dead. We’re sitting here with people who are struggling. We’re sitting here unemployment levels that are too high. There’re some good jobs in that gas  drilling industry.

Everitt believes natural gas is the best non-renewable energy source now available.

If they switched over all those coal plants to natural gas plants, we would just leap forward in cleaning our air. 

She also anticipates there will be less reliance on foreign natural resources.

I could hope that at least we don’t have an excuse for wars. Drill a gas well and bring a soldier home.

Everitt says fear drives the anti-fracking forces.

There are a lot of folks that don’t understand the whole process. Don’t understand why it’s safe. They’ve been scared by some stupid movie like “Gasland” that is so not based on fact.

“Gasland” is a 2010 documentary hailed by environmentalists, but panned by fracking advocates.

Citing safety concerns, New York banned fracking in 2008 and, in March, extended the moratorium until 2015. Everitt says the legal wrangling doesn’t help the Empire State.

I guess our immediate goal is to have drilling in New York, because without that everything else we want to do is kinda of a moot point.

Shee-Wai Wong contributed to this report. For TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Rachel Lundberg.

And now Lee Murray will bring us another perspective from an environmentalist against fracking.

While New York faces a hiatus in drilling, many people in Youngstown believe their city is on the brink of something huge. With fracking comes the promise of new jobs, good jobs, and the potentially immediate activity and rejuvenation that only a booming industry can bring. Opposing fracking here, in a city that is still yet to fill the hole where its long defunct steel industry used to be, is an uphill battle. Susie Beiersdorfer is an activist and would-be politician with plenty of experience on the subject of hydrofracturing. She learned about drilling at a young age when she tagged along with her grandfather, who ran a supply company.

So I grew up bouncing in the back of a pickup truck round Bakersfield, Calif., going out to wells, delivering tools. I got my degree in geology in 1981and then I worked as a mudlogger in the oil and gas fields of California.

Beierdsorfer says she’s always been environmentally conscious, but her mindfulness of environmental issues grew into a firm disapproval of the lack of regulations on new drilling methods.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen how the oil and gas industry is not regulated well and certainly within the last couple years it just really came to a head with this horizontal, high volume, high pressure, hydraulic fracturing.

Beiersdorfer wants to see a ban on fracking in Youngstown. On May 7, Youngstowners will vote on a charter amendment that will attempt to do just that. She’s also running for president of City Council. Beiresdorfer says the role does not traditionally hold much weight with decision making in the city, but she’ll use that position at city hall to steer the conversation towards an all-out ban.

And I’ve just been so frustrated with government officials being either not interested or willfully ignorant. They don’t want to know about the dangers, they don’t want to know what some of the consequences could be, and so that is really my motivation.

Beiersdorfer is a geologist with field experience in the industry she now opposes. That experience adds some weight to her argument, and the citizen-led green organizations in the area – many of which she founded or is a member of – will be keen to use that weight to get their message across.

For TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Lee Murray.