THE INFLUX of Chemical People began more than two years ago. Until recently, it remained unabated as no public official stepped forward to impede or stop the natural gas drilling corporations and the chemical slop they intend for the underground veins of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Area lease holders apparently were so enamored with the Chemical People, and their blizzard of signed agreements, that visions of sugarplums, and dollar signs, danced in their heads.
Drilling Marcellus Shale requires an ugly process that cuts vertically into the rock, then horizontally through it. It\’s blasted with a million gallons of chemical-mixed water, under enormous pressure, to fracture the shale and release the gas. It\’s called hydraulic fracturing, or â€œfracking,â€ and has resulted in contamination that\’s been widely reported. No one knows where the chemical soup will seep and leach in the years and decades that follow.
Citizen organizations, such as the area\’s Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, strongly object to the impending pollution destined for our region. While this is not the planet â€œPandoraâ€ in the epic motion picture â€œAvatar,â€ the Chemical People who landed here, craving the shale beneath us, clearly are digging in a colossal Pandora\’s box.
Yet, not one public official stands in their way.
New York has not allowed fracking in the Empire State. Nor has the Delaware River Basin Commission permitted it within its vast purview. And Pittsburgh recently banned it from the Steel City. Yet, in Luzerne County, Chemical People are in the driver\’s seat â€” â€œI mean, look at all that cheddar.â€
In 2009 there were 1,970 active Marcellus permits issued in Pennsylvania. Today that number is more than 4,500 â€” and they are just getting started. Permits and Chemical People â€œare going to come like a rain that never ends. Unless we stop them.â€
Encana Oil and Gas, of Canada, was an early entry in the sweepstakes to chemically fracture Northeastern Pennsylvania. They leased more than 25,000 acres in Luzerne County alone. Each of its wells would require about a million gallons of your water, chemically mixed and injected underground, where there are no walls or property lines to divert the disgusting fluid.
Not only has no one stepped forward, in August the Luzerne County Zoning Hearing Board\’s members, ignoring the pleas of area residents, approved 10 wells for Encana, in one meeting.
Ten. One. Hmmm.
The powerful drill bits soon began their descent into the treasured environment of the Back Mountain. Cutting and ripping, the blades repeatedly gouged Mother Earth to make way for the million gallons of poison that would fill her arteries, rattle her bones and compel her to relinquish the valued â€œunobtainiumâ€ she possesses.
No matter the anguish or damage done, the earth beneath Fairmount Township proved more resolute than the wealthy, powerful, lobbyist-laden, campaign-contributing Chemical People pressing the attack.
She stood her ground and refused to capitulate, as so many she was counting on, above ground, had.
Once defeated, Encana announced it was pulling up stakes, leaving town – and its mess behind. Encana, out-cana. Good riddance.
That evening as the sun began to slip in the November sky, casting long shadows over the abandoned wellhead, there was but the feint sound of nature\’s warning. Next time we might not be as fortunate.
The earth itself and coalitions of brave citizens cannot do it alone. They need elected and appointed officials of character and courage to stand up, in the way, and tell the Chemical People, no, not here.
â€œThis is our land.â€
Kevin Blaum\’s column on government, life and politics appears every Sunday. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright: Times Leader