Just plain pretty … for now

We were on our way back from another of our treks along the Pine Creek rail trail when this view to the north beckoned.  Neither of us is very sanguine about what the future may hold for this most beautiful landscape. As you may have heard the Marcellus Gas Shale Industry has already had significant local impacts on both water quality and on forest and wetland habitats. Because naturally occurring gas shale has such low permeability, hydraulic fracturing makes the extraction of natural gas more efficient. The technique includes the delivery of fracturing fluids 5,000 – 20,000 feet into the ground, under pressure, to open fissures in the rock thereby liberating gas from the surrounding formations. Where these fluids migrate (they are not fully recovered from the wellbore) is not understood. What influence perturbation of these natural rock formations will have on gas migrations and on the local water table is not known. This significant lack of knowledge notwithstanding, the Pennsylvania Gas Shale Industry moves ahead much like the California Gold Rush. To its credit New York State has been somewhat more suspect of hydraulic fracturing … but that reticence may soon change. How unfortunate it is that markets and money talk, no matter what may be at stake. What dollar value would you suggest be placed on the scenery below? And what of the value of vigorous trees?  Healthy soil? Clean water? Unpolluted air? And multitudes upon multitudes of plants and animals which depend upon these resources – unspoiled? Ponder that.

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