c. David Grim (taken 10/23/10)
I'll freely admit that I don't know a whole lot about the Marcellus Shale deposits, nor do I completely understand all the issues surrounding the leasing of Pennsylvania lands for drilling. To this date I've mostly been keeping my ears and eyes open, and slowly gathering whatever information I might glean about this topic. I have some friends who are active in promoting awareness about what's going on, and I've heard their viewpoints. But I'm not sure exactly how I stand on it all.
The truth is that I would definitely err on the side of caution. I've had a bit of exposure to the documentary "Gasland", that told the story of a cross-country roadtrip taken by filmmaker Josh Fox, who was on a mission to uncover the real deal regarding drilling. What he uncovered is some pretty nasty stuff that I won't try to summarize here. Suffice it to say that there is a very real danger that our water table will be polluted by the activities of the gas drilling companies. Obviously those entities are much more concerned about making huge profits than protecting the health of those who live in the areas that they seek to operate. that should be no surprise.
So why do so few of our local and state politicians seem worried about the potentially devastating effects of drilling? They are being bought off. Tom Corbett, Republican nominee for PA Governor, has received almost a million dollars (to date) from gas drilling interests. He has worked strenuously (alongside his Republicans cronies in the PA Senate) to kill the proposed severance tax increases for drilling in Pennsylvania. He claims that he is acting to ensure that jobs stay here in the state. Of course this is a ridiculous contention, as the Marcellus Shale deposits can't get up and move down South to avoid any taxes that might be levied.
At least Ed Rendell is doing something about this. He has placed a moratorium on opening up new state forest lands for leasing by drilling companies. He has pointed out that every other state that contains Marcellus Shale deposits already has a severance tax above and beyond what any GOP legislator in PA is willing to administer. But the PA Senate has stonewalled, and now their session has lapsed without any action. Rendell's response is at least a symbolic gesture of resistance against the power of the corporations. But the measure doesn't stop the drilling that has already started in PA state-owned forests. And it will be overturned if Corbett wins the election. He is already bought and paid for.
The troubling thing is that NO ONE in power in PA is suggesting that maybe it would be a good idea to follow the state of New York and ban fracking altogether. The only reason to stumble ahead and allow unfettered drilling without a public investigation of its hazards, and a resulting dialog, is the desperate drive for mad profits. The corporations that have come here to do this are from out-of-state, and any profits they extract from our land will be taken out as well. They are even employing mostly out-of-state workers. Most tragically, they are despoiling our natural resources, and Corbett doesn't want them to get taxed? And he seeks to "serve" as state executive? Why not just elect a drilling company CEO instead?