I have posted before about the Marcellus Gas Shale Industry and in response to the most recent of these a very good friend of mine reminded me of Section 27 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution. It reads

Natural Resources and the Public Estate. The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

I am not very sanguine about what the future may hold for this beautiful state of Pennsylvania. The Marcellus Gas Shale Industry has already had significant local impacts on both water quality and on forest and wetland habitats. Hydraulic fracturing 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 may migrate is not well understood. What influence perturbation of these natural rock formations will have on gas migrations and on the local water table is not known. This lack of knowledge notwithstanding, the Pennsylvania Gas Shale Industry moves ahead much like the California Gold Rush. How unfortunate it is that markets and money talk, no matter what may be at stake.

When I wrote these words, back in October, the night sky above the hillside to our north was as black as coal. About a year ago we thought we could see an orange glow after dark, it worried us but soon subsided. Recently however we have been aware of an increase in truck traffic along our once quiet country road, and just a few weeks ago I was certain that I had seen what looked like a beacon up the hill one very early morning. Each of our days end with a walk which allows the dog his last constitutional before bed. The steady glow above the hills has not escaped our notice this week. In the words of Tolkien’s Gandalf the Grey … they are coming. How unfortunate that what was once pristine, in so many ways which were important to us, is no more.


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