Responsible Drilling Alliance

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Cumulative Impacts of Gas Drilling – Mar. 21st 2011 Newsletter

Cumulative Impacts

John Quigley, former Secretary of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, was recently dismissed from his post by Governor Corbett. Last week, in a message to Victoria Switzer of Dimock, Quigley had this to say about the gas industry’s plans for Pennsylvania: “My heart aches for you and others who are feeling the effects of this industry first hand… The cumulative impacts of Marcellus development will dwarf all of the impacts on PA of timbering and oil and coal combined.  I am afraid for the future of this state. It is hanging in the balance…” Is Quigley right in his assessment? What can we expect Pennsylvania to look like 10 or 20 years from now? Will we recognize the landscape we now enjoy? How is this Marcellus Shale moment similar to or different from the past harvest of energy resources, including coal and petroleum? Hear one expert’s perspective this Wednesday, March 23, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM as the James V. Brown library presents:

“Harvesting Pennsylvania’s Natural Resources: Marcellus Shale in a Historical Perspective.”

Pennsylvania holds a critical position at an important moment in the nation’s energy history: the Marcellus Shale boom is upon us.  Drilling and exploration for gas wells is sweeping through many parts of Pennsylvania, causing great opportunity but also confusion and uncertainty.  The commonwealth has been in a similar spot before. Dr. Brian Black, Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Penn State Altoona, will discuss the Marcellus Shale boom in historical perspective and lead a discussion about our collective energy future. Black’s research emphasis is on the landscape and environmental history of North America, particularly in relation to the application and use of energy and technology. He is the author of several books, including the award-winning Petrolia: The Landscape of America’s First Oil Boom.

The discussion will be held Wednesday, March 23, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in the Lowry Room on the third floor of the Welch Wing at the James V. Brown Library, 19 E. 4th Street, Williamsport, PA. The program is free and open to the public. No registration is required. RDA members and all those with an interest in Marcellus Shale are encouraged to attend.

This program has been supported by Public Humanities Scholars, a joint venture of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Pennsylvania State University’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, with funding by a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The color of gas drilling

The color of gas drilling is a dull, stultifying, choking, brown.  I drove south along Rt. 14 in PA this past weekend and was absolutely struck by the amount of dry filth everywhere.  It hit with a rush at Columbia Crossroads.  I had the external air vent on in the car, and even filtered, there was a noticeable difference in the breathable air inside the car, thicker and with a dirt taste.  Beginning at Columbia Crossroads, the pavement is brown, and the guardrails are no longer galvanized gray but instead coated with a layer of particulate, spun off the wheels of trucks.  Troy, once a lovely country village, is covered, roof to sidewalk, with a gritty pall that cannot help but sift to the inside.  Canton is the same, and the scene did not let up until Roaring Branch, when there was some relief from the brown cloak that now smothers a former refreshing, pastoral highway. I could not help but wonder who, in these dusty homes and storefronts along the main roadways, is benefiting, and how the trees and other vegetation will be affected when (or if) they bud out.  If all the recent rains helped to wash anything down, what must it have been like beforehand? I wish there were a positive end to this note, but it just seems to be another layer of drilling fallout (no pun intended) that nobody figured on up front.  And it’s not going to go away. This description  was written by an RDA member traveling through Bradford County, where drilling activity has been heavier than in RDA’s home base here in Lycoming County. Given the rate of the permits being issued locally, we won’t be spared for long.

“You can’t live on gas. Don’t let them in. No way.”

Advice given by Terry Greenwood, a Pennsylvania farmer. More at:

Will hydrofracking cause long-term consequences?

Find out this Wednesday at the Brown Library. And – learn more here:

A worker prepares drilling fluid for fracking. Photographed by: TIM SHAFFER, REUTERS

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