Secretary of US Dept of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has just done this nation, it's citizens and our future health a very serious blow: rural housing loans are categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act. His new "final statement of policy" is in effect until April 2013.
What does this mean to the gas industry? The affects of their drilling operations on leased land will not fall under the scrutiny of the feds.
What does this mean to the land owner? Their mortgages will not be held up for any USDA environmental review if there are drilling leases on the land.
What does this mean to the environment? Well now that's a very big question, isn't it. Basically - we all lose. When (not if) there is any contamination as a result of drilling industry practices, the land owner has no recall for Federal protection because that land is exempt from Federal oversight. Don't forget that since 2005 fracking is exempt from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts also. The communities surrounding the drilling area have no recall. As Mother Nature disperses contamination in her natural order of flow, all plant, animal and human life will suffer.
This mortgage exclusion controversy is just one more layer of the complicated issue of high volume hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. Gas industry lobbyists are pushing hard for purely economical benefit of the corporation. It is not about energy independence: the gas will be sold internationally and the land leases are being sold internationally. It is not about economic growth: HVHF is a boom and bust entity. The destruction it leaves behind long outlasts any benefit it proposes.
The NY Times has an excellent article by Ian Urbina, Mar 23. I hope you'll read it! When you are done, today will be a good day to contact Sec.Tom Vilsack and and his boss, President Obama, to express your disapproval over the USDA policy on mortgages with drilling leases involved!