Michael McCarthy. (Photo provided)

Michael McCarthy. (Photo provided)

Voices of the Peninsula: Don’t allow directional drilling

The environmental risk of opening Kachemak Bay to fracking is incomprehensible.

By Michael McCarthy

For the Homer News

On March 17, we were informed that Senate Bill 62 was to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on March 18. This was shocking to us because Kachemak Bay has been declared a Critical Habitat Area as well as a World Heritage Site. Both of these classifications have been honored by various governors since Gov. Jay Hammond. We immediately drafted the following letter to the Senate Finance Committee individual members. There is still time to let your feelings be known about protecting Kachemak Bay from potential destruction. Our letter follows.

We are most strongly opposed to SB 62. It is presented in a seemingly nondestructive manner as a funding bill, “Relating to the renewable energy grant fund.” Since when have oil and gas been considered renewable? This is 1984 Newspeak.

Kachemak Bay is a World Heritage Site and a Critical Habitat Area because of its unique natural beauty, certainly one of the most beautiful unspoiled places on earth. Kachemak Bay should be protected and not subjected to industrial rape.

We have lived alongside Kachemak Bay since 1997. I am a retired geologist who has practiced in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. I have travelled to Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado and British Columbia and seen the impact of gas fracking on communities. The social and economic aspects are not pretty.

The first concern is the volume of water used in fracking, including wastewater disposal. The EPA found that the median volume of water consumed by one fracking well is 1.5 million gallons. Where is such a quantity of water going to come from? Certainly not the Anchor River. Hydraulic fracking fluids are known to contain toxic carcinogenic proprietary chemicals that are injected at pressures up to 9,000 pounds per-square-inch into subsurface formations. The glacial history of Kachemak Bay region and the fact that the Border Range Fault is traceable from Kodiak Island into Kachemak Bay presents a potential risk for earthquakes. What is unknown is whether or not earthquakes are directly caused by fracking or by the disposal of wastewater generated by the fracking process.

Another serious concern is the wastewater generated from the fracking process can leak into surrounding water sources and contaminate drinking water and destroy the life-supporting qualities of streams like the Anchor River and its tributaries, and even Kachemak Bay. In 2015, the EPA documented 151 spills of hydraulic fracking fluids.

The environmental risk of opening Kachemak Bay to fracking is incomprehensible. It is a desecration of nature and no less a crime than the desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

Please vote “no” on this poorly vetted proposal called SB 62. Thank you for your consideration.

Michael McCarthy is a longtime Homer resident who received an Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1965. He holds a Bachelor of Science in geology from Portland State University, 1970, and is a registered geologist in Oregon. He has worked as a geologist in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. He also holds a Master of Science in the administration of justice from the University of Portland, 1980. He is a retired police officer and detective with more than 22 years in the criminal justice system in Oregon and Alaska.

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