I’m pissed. Something I love is being threatened.
My ancestors were among the first to settle this land. I am at home here and when I walk these crisped leaf-laden paths, the souls of my feet grind the skins of these trees into soil that’s alive with my heritage. Strength and fortitude has nourished this soil, these trees, those rivers…all of them as much a part of me as the genes that live on in my cells.
When my soul is weary, I head to the shelter of the forest, to the gentle slope of my mountain, to the places where the tide caresses the shore.
I am there now, watching the tide ebb and flow over the frozen marsh. Pausing over the fresh snow where fox paws cross my path, or where coyote and I strode the same space, each of us feeling the frost in solitude.
Can anyone blame me for loving and caring for the continuity of place?
This is my land, my birthright. It sustains me in the same ways it sustained my grandparents, great-grandparents and all the generations before. Albert County is in the blood and bone of me.
And now, the gas and oil companies have moved in. Oh, they’ve been here awhile, drilling away in the distant hills, and I have been as guilty as others of complacency. Of being too busy to take notice. But I notice now. Because my blessed Albert County sits on top of a goldmine of oil and shale gas and my neighbourhood is being threatened by the poisonous process and greed of hydraulic fracking. And my government’s ears are deafened; its vision obstructed by dollar signs.
If you share a corner of the world that is coveted by the industry, then you know that fracking involves mixing huge volumes of fresh water with toxic chemical and sand, then pumping it into the ground with ferocious velocity to shatter the bedrock. You know that it endangers groundwater and aquifers, spews noxious fumes into the air, involves noise and truck traffic and diminishes property values.
It destroys the land. It fractures communities.
You also know it poisons fresh water and segments the landscape, stripping trees and vegetation, interrupting wilderness pathways and migration routes, gouging quarries for sand, stripping forest highways for pipelines. You know there is a rising tide of opposition throughout North America and Europe. You know that people and animals are getting sick from the downstream effects of the industry. Entire countries, provinces, municipalities have enacted bans or moratoriums. Yet the lure of profit is pushing governments to ignore health, lifestyle and environmental dangers to ‘improve economy and create jobs’. You know that the prosperity is for the companies and shareholders, not the landowners left with the lingering mess.
The past months, I’ve been wallowing in the research, pulling myself out of the toxicity of each new study I read in order to grab a lungful of fresh air and re-energize myself. We have started our own opposition group (Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County), developed a website, circulated petitions, organized community meetings, joined a larger alliance of others who share our concerns (so excuse me for my absence from blogging!). We protested at the Legislature.
Meanwhile, our government is ignoring the voice of its people and plunging its head in the sand, spewing out platitudes and unfounded figures of wealth and prosperity that are built on a foundation as tenuous and shifting as the sand pile its buried in. Our news media is owned by the oil industry, so the mass of opposition is understated and largely unreported.
It’s demoralizing, discouraging work. But if you’re going to fight, you have to understand what you are fighting….and what you are fighting for.
Our lives begin to end
The day we become silent
About things that matter
~Martin Luther King, Jr