Fracking has Amish communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania pondering an important decision — whether to trade in a bit of their quiet lifestyle in exchange for the large royalties that come with oil and gas drilling.
There has been much controversy around hydraulic fracturing, a mining process that uses an infusion of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground to break apart rocks and free trapped pockets of oil and gas. It has been proposed and opposed in many communities, but fracking in Amish communities now seems as increasing possibility.
Many people in Amish communities across Ohio and Pennsylvania have signed drilling leases for the rich pockets of minerals underneath their farm lands.
”Amish are no different than anybody else. The power of big money can bring spiritual corruption,” said Jerry Schlabach, an Amish resident of Berlin, Ohio. ”If we can keep our values and adhere to biblical principle, then it can be a very positive thing,” he said.
Susan Mast, an Amish wife and mother, now has a fracking well next to her home in Ohio and said it hasn’t disrupted their quiet farm.
”It’s not as noisy as we thought it would be,” said Mast, a mother of seven children. ”They enjoyed watching what was going on,” she said of the kids during the drilling phase.
Some studies also show that fracking may not be as dangerous as critics once feared. A new fracking study found that wells studied “contained levels of methane typical in the area and below levels that the federal government considers a threat to health.”
“I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself affected water… In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater,” EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress in 2011.
Fracking in Amish communities may have a special appeal, said historian Donald B. Kraybill. He notes that Amish have a “strong sense of God’s creation,” and that the world was created for the benefit of man. That would include oil and gas deposits.