What Have We Done? When Big Gas Meets Small Farmer (Video)

Devote a few minutes to digest this interview by On the Frontlines to witness the impact of Big Gas on a naive small Pennsylvania dairy farmer.  

Meet Carol French resident of Bradford County, PA, the heart of Fracking Country.

This FROM THE FRONTLINES” video features an interview with Carol French, whose story begins in 2006, when the landman came knocking on her door.

Now it’s 2013 and Carols farm has contaminated water. Her life begins and ends with water.


Carol French with jar of Water

Below is an essay by Carol French, October 11, 2012.

These are her words describing her experiences and observations of living in Bradford County.
What have We Done?

Nearly 30% of the rural farm land located in Bradford County, Pennsylvania was already leased prior 2006. We and 50% of the county decided to lease our land for an average $5- $85/per acre. It would take two more years before the gas companies would convince another 10% to lease their land at $2,500 or more/per acre. During this leasing process, you could feel the excitement. It was the talk of the town. There were suggestions made that if a gas well was drilled on your property you would become the next “shaleionaires.” Everyone was to prosper, new roads, jobs, additional money from leasing and royalties. It was too good to be true!

By the spring of 2009 there was uneasiness among the farmers that had had a gas well drilled on their property. The local newspaper was reporting contamination found in water wells, death occurring on a gas pad and the farmer was facing the fact that he could lose his farm due to a lawsuit based on the gas companies operation. For myself, I was thinking that our lucky neighbor was going to become the next Millionaire, because they had the gas well drilled on them. Soon my mind changed. Those farmers were facing penalties lodged against them, due to their land becoming industrial use instead of agricultural use. Landowners found themselves seeking legal advice, only to find that the attorneys were not experienced in Oil & Gas law, and had a conflict of interest. Example: If the landowner could not afford the attorneys fee, the attorney would simply attach his name to the royalty interest for payment.

My neighbor (Carolyn) and I attended a presentation by a professor from Penn State University. He made a statement, saying that we must sacrifice; it was our patriotic duty to assure our Country would be independent from foreign oil. I could not wrap my mind around what he was saying. Was there legislation insuring that our natural resources would stay in this country? What did he mean we would have to sacrifice?

In December, 2010 – January 2011, three gas wells were drilled near our farm. Farm land was getting ripped up like old material for a patch work quilt. In the middle of 2011, five more gas wells were drilled, surrounding our farm. Two of the gas wells were less than 4,000 feet away.

My water changed March 15, 2011. Our water appeared pearly white. Then it had a layer of green moss settling on top of a 1/4 inch of sand as the water would become gelatin like. By October 2011, my daughter became ill. She had a high fever, diarrhea, weight loss of 10 pounds in 7 days, and severe pains in her abdomen. At the hospital they found her liver, spleen and her right ovary was extremely enlarged. Our neighbor living north of us had the same health issues after her water changed in March of that year, except her spleen burst three days after she went to the hospital. We knew our daughter would have to leave Pennsylvania in order to have a chance of a healthy, normal life. She moved to Tennessee. We don’t drink the water or the milk from our cows. We still have to bathe in it. Our state agency (Department of Environmental Protection) refuses to test our water; therefore the gas company will not provide water for our cows and my family.

I now believe I understand what he meant by “we are to sacrifice”

It is October 3, 2012, Many that quit their previous job to work for the gas related companies are now unemployed. We have become “prudent partners” with the gas company, by signing a lease, now are finding ourselves responsible for their debts (Mechanics Leans). There are for sale signs in the yard of a contaminated farm. The farm lost 80%-90% of its value, possibly losing his milk market, and who will buy his cows? Many living in Bradford County have “changed” water, depending on the gas companies to provide water for their families and farms. This has become a huge, expensive burden to the gas companies. Some of the gas companies operating in Bradford County have chosen not to pay for the water bill, resulting in no more water deliveries to the effected families. Other residents have been given water filtration systems, resulting in additional cost to the resident.

We were given a chance to dream, not knowing the true value of what lie so far beneath our land. Not aware of the type of operations that would be conducted on our land. We believed in the false promises made by the gas industry. Now I wonder, will these private gas companies produce natural gas for this country or produce natural gas for sales overseas, selling to the highest bidder. This would crush the theory of “sacrifice for our country allowing independence from foreign oil”.

I keep asking myself, what have we done?