Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Can they even see the forest for the dollar signs??

Thank you to a friend who forwarded the following article which appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. It must be read to be believed. The lead in paragraph is fairly innocuous--it's what follows.



BY Andrew Maykuth

"Natural-gas drillers yesterday bid $128.5 million to develop 32,000 acres of Pennsylvania state forests, twice the revenue the state had budgeted, prompting fears of a headlong rush to overrun public lands to tap into the rich Marcellus Shale....[click here for the rest of the article].

Nearly 1/3 of PA's state forests are now under lease so that they might extract the natural gas deposits. . Maybe I'm confused but weren't state parks designated as "state parks" to be PROTECTED from development and to serve as recreational and educational areas for residents and tourists?

One of the wonderful things about living where we do is the proximity to treasures like our state parks. What is this going to do to property values? Better yet, how many tourists do you think will come to vacation in the Endless Mountains if they're surrounded with drills, pipelines, and all of the lovely things that come along with this process? Who takes vacations in Superfund Sites? No one I know.

Officials agreed to this sweetheart deal because their financial arms were twisted. PA's budget presented a perfect storm of circumstances for these companies to come in and save the day by paying for the privilege to....destroy one of the major streams of revenue to the state--tourism to our parks!

So what happens when down the road we have budget issues again? Is the government even thinking clearly?!

Once these lands are polluted--there is no "do-over." Our state parks will become Superfund Sites.

Yes, I've read the whole process is supposed to be safe, yada yada yada. Tell that to the residents of Dimock, PA. This rural town has filed a class action lawsuit against drilling companies who polluted their streams and drinking water, damaged their fields--and in one case-- blew up a house.

Or to those who live in western PA where 160+ species of fish and aquatic life--an entire ecosystem--has been killed off due to fracking fluids being dumped in the water upstream.

Or to those who live along the Monongahela where fracking fluids were also dumped. This major river is now polluted and residents enjoy "chunkier than normal drinking water." Earthjustice, formerly known as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, is pursuing possible legal action on a backroom deal that would allow a new water treatment plant to dump half a million gallons PER DAY of water polluted by gas drilling chemicals into this river.

Or to the owners of wells in upstate NY which are now contaminated by radium-226 (a derivative of uranium) --amounts in some cases nearly 300 times that deemed safe for human consumption.

What is it going to take for those in Harrisburg to wake up and smell the methane?! If you, too, are outraged, you can contact your representatives and tell them what's on your mind. They work for US--not the other way around. There are links on the Protect the Endless Mountains blog (along the right) where you can click to find the name and contact information for each of your legislators.

Protect our state parks. Protect our water supply.
Remember, there are no do-overs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Public Notice: Web seminar to cover issues related to natural gas leases

A Web seminar to address ongoing implications of natural gas leases will be available January 21 @ 1pm.  While many landowners across Pennsylvania have signed lease agreements with natural gas exploration companies, new questions - which may or may not be clear in the original leases - continue to emerge. A discussion of these questions will be the focus of a free Web-based seminar titled, "Post Leasing - Considerations of What Happens Next, Lessons Learned to Date."

Sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension, the seminar will provide information about the scope of existing and additional lease agreements. The seminar will address some of the trends landowners have been observing as the gas extraction phase begins to ramp up in many parts of the state. Some of these trends include negotiations with landowners for siting the well pad, lease extensions, the addition of roads, pipelines, sound mitigation and the need for timbering. The seminar is available by going to PSU's Cooperative Extension events site.  Online participants will have the opportunity to ask the speaker questions during the session. 

The seminar is part of an ongoing series of workshops addressing issues related to the state's Marcellus Shale gas boom. One-hour seminars also will be held at 1 p.m. on the following dates:

Feb. 18: "Underground Injection Wells as an Option for Disposal of Shale Gas Wastewaters: Policies and Practicality." The presenter will be Karen Johnson, chief, Groundwater and Enforcement Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3

March 18: "The Impact of Marcellus Shale: What Do the Economic Impact Studies Imply?" Presenter will be Timothy Kelsey, Penn State Cooperative Extension state program leader. 

For more information, contact Joann Kowalski, extension educator in Susquehanna County, at 570-278-1158 or