“Family, Baby, Family!”

To spend Easter together as a family we had to drive a twenty hour round trip. That is because my son now lives in Vermont. Mrs. E. our daughter and I packed up the car and took turns driving.  No one wants their children to graduate college and have to move far away to get a job. We’d all like to keep our family members near because we love them and worry about them. It was wonderful to have a few days off for Easter to be able to go visit and see where my son was living and working. I can tell you Mrs. E. and I had more than a little bit of tears in our eyes when we had to leave him the other day. If you’ve gone through this you know exactly what I mean. You might be thinking that kids have to move for a job and that is just the way things are. I suppose it could be pointed out that our ancestors came to this country and left family behind knowing they would never see them again. I’m sorry but none of those statements make me feel less sad that my son is so far away. It was great to have good highways to be able to go visit him. Those smooth highways didn’t make it any easier for my arthritis that has me feeling like a cripple today for spending so much time cramped up in a car. I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent in gas or anything on the green side about how much pollution my car put out on the trip.

I could have flown but I don’t do airplane travel well and it is also costly. It is great to have technology like telephones and be able to text to stay in touch with loved ones. I know Americans like to think we are #1 in things but I have to tell you we are behind the world in transportation. If we had current transportation technology like one of these I could make it to see my son in about 1.5-2 hours tops! I would hope as more and more of our children move away to get jobs we will consider these high-speed trains that Europe and Japan have had for decades.

Of course it would be nice if our children could find work in communities near their parents. Our steel mills closed years ago causing people to move to find jobs. The next area boom job we had brought us from steel to steel bars. Those steel bars being prison bars as we had a private prison, a federal prison and a Supermax prison being the only thing offered our valley. Our valley’s children who wanted to make this area their home attended YSU seeking criminal justice degrees. We have a new opportunity to keep our children from going elsewhere to seek jobs. That is being provided by oil and gas companies who have come to our valley in an attempt to purchase and lease land for drilling. One such company, Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc. a Houston-based energy company has located its office at the end of my street. When they tried to locate in a Virginia county it’s residents stood up and said no to Carrizo. That county was worried about the environmental impact on the community. A lot of this drilling for natural gas is done by “fracking,” the process by which a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand, and water are blasted into rock to tap into the gas. People’s wells have become contaminated and the waste water from fracking can be extremely dangerous. According to the Endocrine Disruption Network, “25 percent of the chemicals used in fracking can cause cancer. Fifty percent can affect the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.” New Year’s Eve in Youngstown was welcomed in with an earthquake. It was the area’s eleventh since D&L Energy began injecting drilling waste underground in December 2010.

I wish this new business was just the ticket to keep our children from having to leave this valley. I know some people aren’t concerned with any environmental impacts. They are just desperate to see their children be able to get a job and be near them. That I totally understand. Then we have those who are going to sell and lease their land and only care about making money. If worse comes to worse and this area turns into an environmental disaster they have made their money and can move anywhere they want. They will have escaped the disaster they helped to create as they leave those of us who can’t afford to move to suffer in their wake. The “drill, baby, drill!” conservative crowd somehow always thinks that the private sector can do no wrong. Do they really believe that corporations put people before profits? Have they forgotten about the tobacco industry, exploding Firestone tires, Pintos that turned into fireballs, lead paint, asbestos etc?

I suppose people think the EPA, elected officials, medical experts and government agencies are looking out for us so if fracking is happening around the country it must be safe. If you look close enough you’ll see officials who deal with complaints are being bought off, donations are buying co-operation with the gas and oil companies and laws have been passed to protect the companies from disclosing the dangerous chemicals they are using. Under a new law, doctors in Pennsylvania can access information about chemicals used in natural gas extraction — but they won’t be able to share it with their patients. This law will “gag” doctors who want to raise concerns related to oil and gas extraction with the people they treat and the general public. The oil and gas companies have already infiltrated the very folks that would protect us here in Ohio. A member of an Ohio commission that decides oil and gas-drilling complaints also gets a percentage of what the companies pay the landowners, when the deals are struck. See info here.

Then we have some of the creepy people involved in the gas and oil business. Ones like, Texas oilman and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens. He is a major financier of natural gas exploration across the United States. If fracking destroys the water in this country Pickens has that covered.  You see, according to Business Week, “Pickens owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more.”  It’s a win-win situation for T. Boone. Pickens spent $2 million as the money man behind the Swift Boat political hate ads that attacked John Kerry when he ran for president in 2004. Then you have the Koch brothers the money men behind the Tea Party and several right-wing think tanks. Koch Pipeline Company LP, owns and operates 4,000 miles of pipeline used to transport oil and natural gas. In 2010, Koch Industries was ranked 10th on the list of top US corporate air polluters. From 1999 to 2003, Koch Industries was assessed “more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments.” The Kochs are the oil and gas industry’s biggest donors to the congressional committee with oversight of the hazardous Keystone XL oil pipeline. They and their employees gave more than $300,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010 alone. Add in the local creeps who support the area’s bum rush to drill like, Frank Robinson editor of the Warren Tribune, Dan Rivers from WKBN and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber that all supported the SB5 attacks on public sector workers. Having these guys on board with fracking should give you some real pause to take a cautious slow approach to this new valley industry. These are folks who’d sell their mother for a dollar let alone protect our children.

I like most of our valley’s residents would love to see more jobs so our children can have opportunities here. The gas under our land isn’t going anywhere so I think we should slow down and spend some time investigating what the long-term costs to our valley is going to be. This mad rush to “drill, baby, drill!” just makes me think we are all being “swiftboated.” What parents want most for their families is health and safety so the number one issue should be, “family, baby, family!”

Fracking problems in Texas.

Ziggy Marley: Family Time

All Stars: We Are Family

Interesting term in 1973 draft paper, written by R. J. Reynolds’ research planning department.


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