Fracking Graves for Natural Gas


Even cemeteries aren’t sacrosanct in the relentless drive to extract fossil fuels.

Far beneath the final resting places of many Americans, including war veterans, lies a wealth of natural gas trapped in shale rock formations, which could be tapped using the controversial hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, technique. But as companies seek drilling rights to gas beneath graveyards, an outraged public calls into question the ethics behind drilling into hallowed ground, reported the AP.

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"You know what it is, it's emotional," Jim Scharville told the AP. Scharville is the administrator of Poland Township, a community in eastern Ohio where Campbell Development LLC sought the right to extract gas from beneath a 122-year-old cemetery.


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"A lot of people don't want any type of drilling,” Scharville said. “There's something about disturbing the sanctuary of a cemetery. We're not talking about dinosaurs now and creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago. We're talking about loved ones who have died, people we knew."

The National Cemetery Association (NCA), which administers veteran’s cemeteries, has begun to avoid areas where a soldier’s final rest might be disturbed by drills.

"Certainly you don't want oil drilling operations occurring on a property where it could be disruptive to the services or to the visitors, to the serenity or the peace of the site," Glenn Madderom, chief of cemetery development for the NCA told the AP. "A national cemetery, we call it a national shrine. It's a beautiful, well-maintained property that honors the veterans and their families, and so oil drilling operations on that site are just not appropriate."

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Not every cemetery manager feels like Madderom. In Texas, the revenue from selling the rights to the resources beneath two cemeteries has allowed the Texas Cemeteries Association to repair roads and fences and make other improvements to graveyards.


Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery (Department of Veteran's Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, Wikimedia Commons)

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