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Multiple Negative Impacts of the Marcellus Shale Gas Industry
By David Ira Kagan
May 20, 2011
As a resident of Pine Creek Valley in western Lycoming County, I have witnessed daily the negative effects of the Marcellus shale gas industry “boom” that has blighted my home environment for about a year-and-a-half now.
What I have seen has been an ever-growing list of insults to the land, the creek, and a lifestyle that had been nearly idyllic before the invasion, before the worship of Mammon that has gathered into its fold gas industry employees, politicians, area businessmen, and, yes, sadly, many of my fellow residents of north central Pennsylvania.
I think that it is very important to make sure that as many people as possible are made aware of the shocking number of varied and specific negative impacts that have occurred. These blights range from minor ones affecting only a few to major ones affecting many.
Perhaps the major lifestyle change, one that has plagued valley residents constantly since the gas incursion began (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for all but a few, brief “interludes”) has been (1) the overwhelming gas industry-related truck traffic up and down Route 44 through the valley. At times (including as I write this piece on May 19, 2011), the volume has been up to about 1000 vehicles in a 24-hour period. This army of tri-axles, 18-wheelers and pickup trucks assaults the environment, residents and tourists with the noise, the diesel and gasoline pollution, and the traffic congestion and danger.
What are the other negative impacts? The list goes on and on and on—(2) an increase of dead animals on and alongside the road; (3) the destruction of road surface and bridge decks; (4) an increase in litter alongside the road (including high-energy, high-caffeine drink bottles—most empty but some filled with urine, as told to me by a resident who has about 100 yards of frontage along Route 44 below Waterville).
Throughout the woods, along the roadsides, and even right along the Pine Creek Rail Trail—(5) thousands and thousands of pink and red ribbons tied to trees and shrubbery, related to seismic testing; (6) thousands and thousands of feet of electronic cable related to seismic testing; (7) thousands and thousands of seismic meters; (8) laying of underground water pipe (note that the gas industry hired contractor did not clean up the dirt and stones off the rail trail afterwards).
In the air now for over two months during daylight hours, (9) the annoying noise coming from helicopter rotor blades, as choppers check on seismic testing, hovering for extended periods of time over sites that are often near residential areas such as my own Torbert Village, and pick up and drop off equipment and supplies to sites all over.
In Pine Creek itself, near Tombs Run about six miles above Jersey Shore, (10) a coffer dam has been constructed by Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) in that company’s effort to effect a water extraction site. And across the rail trail, the cornfield and Pine Creek just above Torbert Village, (11) the addition of more electric poles and lines needed by the gas industry for another planned water extraction site.
In the mountains just to the west of Pine Creek between Jersey Shore and Waterville, Anadarko has been (12) erecting gas well pads; (13) laying gas and water pipes; and (14) razing timberland throughout what used to be the remote, completely wooded and beautiful Bull Run Vista mountaintop area.
It is for certain, I’m afraid, that the list of negative impacts of the Marcellus shale gas industry on north central Pennsylvania will continue to grow. And I’ll be here to sorrow and despair over them. And to write about them and share the terrible knowledge with as many others as I can, in the hope that enough people will come to their senses, realize that money is not the most important thing in life, and do what we all can to limit, if not halt, this madness.