Pennsylvania Fracking: Are Gas Companies Friend or Foe?
Hydraulic fracturing of natural gas, also known as fracking, has fueled much debate. Now it's hitting home for this Emmaus columnist.
Over the past couple of years I've heard the heated debate about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas within our state. Since it wasn't right in front of me and I didn't know anyone who was being impacted by it, I had no immediate concerns. I also knew very little about it.
But after a recent trip to our most favorite Pennsylvania destination, Wellsboro, my attitude has changed. I've seen it first-hand.
For more than 12 years my family has escaped to the pristine countryside of Tioga County in north central Pennsylvania. We've taken advantage of the state parks in that area including Hills Creek, Leonard Harrison and Colton Point. Some refer to that part of the state as the "Grand Canyon of PA." Pine Creek runs through the canyon and offers amazing fishing, camping, biking and hiking. It's truly "God's Country."
Upon our arrival to Hills Creek about two weeks ago, we were stunned to see stadium lighting blaring throughout a vast farm field adjacent to the park. What on EARTH could that be? Were we suddenly having a close encounter of the third kind?
Nope -- welcome to the world of "fracking," which in my opinion could be considered comparable to a close encounter. Foreign machinery, trucks of all sizes, tanks, pipes, and other large industrial equipment has tainted what used to be a postcard-perfect scene.
As we sat around the campfire that night, the constant hum of machinery could be heard across the lake. The next day, helicopters flew back and forth dragging cables and testing seismic activity (or so I was told). Convoys of diesel trucks plowed down the narrow country roads. This continued the entire weekend.
Between the light and noise pollution, this was no longer our peaceful retreat. After reading story after story expressing concerns about water and air pollution, I feared for the locals.
I learned an awful lot during my three-day trip to Wellsboro, more than I think I want to know. It saddens me deeply to see the beauty and serenity of the Pennsylvania countryside being destroyed. And, according to some, the devastation caused by fracking is more than cosmetic.
In fact, recently a New York Times reporter followed several families who have been directly impacted by fracking. Things are changing for the residents of Pennsylvania. And for those of us who don’t think it matters, stay tuned. Word has it the Delaware River Basin is next.
I understand the benefits of natural gas and our need for self-reliance as a nation, but something needs to change to assure the protection of our environment, our families and our future.