|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD – Six college students are spending their summer bicycling around Western Massachusetts, but it isn’t for fun.
The students are part of Climate Summer, a summer internship project sponsored by the better Future Project. Four teams of college students, each discussing an environmental concern have been biking though Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The Western Massachusetts team visited Springfield this week, its next to last stop, two of the team members, Alex Hogan and Caroline White-Nockleby, explained to Reminder Publications.
They said the focus of their team’s message was informing residents about the possibility of fracking coming to Massachusetts. White-Nockleby explained the process of accessing natural gas deposits in layers of shale is now in Pennsylvania and could come to Connecticut and western Massachusetts because the layers of underground shale here.
“It’s definitely a possibility to could be fracked in the next few years as the technology improves, “ she said.
Hogan said there is currently a bill in committee at the Legislature that would not only ban fracking in the Commonwealth, but also ban the dumping of fracked materials.
White-Nockleby said that fracking involved drilling deep in the ground and pumping in millions of gallons of water to cause fissures in the shale. The water that is used is mixed with chemicals and she said there is evidence that water finds its way into aquifers and causes pollution.
The team of students are asking people to contact state Rep. Peter Kocot of Northampton to voice their concerns about fracking and supporting the passage of House Bill 788 “An Act to Protect Our Drinking Water from Hydraulic fracking.” Kocot, who is co-author of the bill, can be reached at Peter.Kocot@mahouse.gov.
Hogan said that fracking is exempt under current federal legislation.
The team has screened the documentary “Gasland II” while in the city and has made appearances canvassing people at the Stearns Square Concert and the Mason Square Farmers markets.
They will conduct a community meeting on fracking at 6 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church at 741 State St. on Aug. 1.
All of the Climate Summer students are volunteers and they operate their information campaign on a budget of $6 a day per person, which includes their meals. Hogan and White-Nockleby explained that once they leave Springfield on Aug. 3 they will be traveling to their last stop of Worcester, and then join the other teams on Cape Cod to support the Cape Wind project.
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