Mr. Gariepy’s column of July 17 has a very valid opinion of the proposed fracking operation by Helis. He believes that “we are part of the silent majority.”

I too feel like I am part of that “silent majority,” but see the proposed development from a different point of view.

Your comments were very positive and never mention anything negative about oil and gas exploration.

I find it curious that you did not point out that St. Tammany Parish is 540,800 acres, of which Helis has leases and options on about 60,000 acres or over 10 percent of the parish’s acreage. If we allow this to happen, other companies can do the same. It could happen.

Remember the Horizon incident that we are still suffering from? BP had the same science and engineering behind their well plan and we all know how that turned out.

What happened in Caddo in 2009, where 16 cattle were found dead at a natural gas well site? And in 2010, hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes after a natural gas well blowout contaminated a drinking water aquifer.

And what about in Desoto Parish where a blowout killed one, injured another, caused neighborhoods within a two-mile radius to be evacuated and sent at least six Desoto Parish firefighters to a nearby hospital.

Way over in Texas in April 2011, a natural gas well exploded in Lumberton on state park property which caused a small fire to burn five acres of the park.

These incidents happened by all of the people involved working corroboratively so that they too could be at the forefront.

St. Tammany has the lowest unemployment in the area at 4.9 percent. With Stennis just signing another $1.2 billion contract, the unemployment in the St. Tammany area is certainly bound to go down, so the Helis project isn’t something that we need to increase employment. St. Tammany is and has enjoyed the highest per capita income in the area for quite some time, so additional high-paying jobs, though good, are not in dire need. Besides that, are other ways to responsibly develop our natural resources, like conserving them, through energy efficiency.

So the question comes down to “what and who does this project benefit?” Mr. Gariepy, you firm will as will Helis. But if something unimaginable happens, and we do have case history to support those unlikely events, who does that harm? I think we can err on the side of caution, not do this project and open up the other coastal drilling areas that have been put on hold around the country and leave our little piece of heaven alone.

Bruce F. Hoffman

geologist

Slidell