Thoughts on EQT by Candice Z.

If you get an Equitable Gas bill in the mail every month, you are already familiar with EQT. EQT is holding their annual shareholder’s meeting here in Pittsburgh on April 18th and this presents a great chance to directly communicate our message to its corporate leaders and executives.

There are a number of reasons we should be raising our voices against EQT. For one there’s the fact that EQT made nearly $480 million last year but paid back absolutely $0 in state income taxes, which means less funding available for education, transit, and other struggling public services for us.

Then there’s the fact that EQT’s CEO David Porges made an obscene $3,576 per hour last year. Yes, you read that right, per hour. But perhaps the most important reason of all is this: 42% of EQT’s gas sales come from Marcellus Shale.

The natural gas extracted from Marcellus Shale is obtained by a method called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, where a well is drilled and millions of gallons of sand, water, and proprietary chemicals are injected into a well under high pressure. This causes the shale to fracture and creates open fissures where the natural gas can flow more freely out of the well. The leftover mixture of 596 chemicals and millions of gallons of water per operation then need to be cleansed and disposed of.

Even though EQT doesn’t want to acknowledge it, it should be more than obvious to anybody that pumping hundreds of chemicals underground is a very terrible idea. Indeed 60% of these chemicals are carcinogens and 93% were found to have adverse health effects, and they are already turning up in our area’s rivers and drinking water.

To make matters worse, the public is not even protected from this contamination of our drinking water, as the fracking industry is exempt from the EPA’s clean water and safe water drinking acts, thanks to Dick Cheney’s industry-backed Energy Bill passed in 2005.

Not only is the gas industry is poisoning our water, but also our air. The industry regularly engages in “burn offs” where they set fire to the frack-water so that it evaporates into the air. This creates ground level ozone and toxic smog, which is extremely harmful to humans, plants, and animals.

This likely means a rise in air-pollution related illnesses and deaths such as lung and other cancers, heart disease, and asthma and respiration illnesses which children particularly are very vulnerable to. The very idea that EQT and the rest of the natural gas industry is not only freely getting away with, but in fact is making millions in profits off of poisoning their children should send most parents into a frenzy.

Gas drilling is a boom-bust industry which means they will stick around long enough to make a profit. When the area is all tapped out, they will move on to another sucker community to exploit, leaving us with a very hefty cleanup bill.

If this isn’t bad enough, EQT isn’t even paying for the privilege to pillage our communities, as PA is the only state in the country that does not collect an extraction tax. If we don’t speak out and take action against EQT, we are quite literally allowing the gas industry to poison us for their own profit.

It’s time to get angry. It’s time to stand up and fight back. Let’s start on April 18th by telling EQT exactly what we think of them.

Candice is a guest blogger for One Pittsburgh. She is an active community member who holds a masters in education and is working as a tutor.

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