This is kind of the history of West Virginia in a nutshell:
This month has not been a quiet one for the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas well drilling industry, and the commotion has the attention of Debbie Borowiec of Upper Burrell, where two gas wells are planned near 67 homes on Chapeldale Drive.
The industry noise began with a “blowout” on June 3 at a Marcellus Shale well outside Penfield in rural Clearfield County. That well, adjacent to the Moshannon State Forest, spewed natural gas and drilling wastewater contaminated with toxic chemicals into the air for 16 hours.
On Monday, drillers hit a pocket of methane in an inactive deep mine, causing an explosion and fire that flared 50-feet high for four days, destroyed a drilling rig and burned all seven workers on the well pad, located in a farm field near Moundsville in West Virginia’s northern panhandle.
And, of course, the states will get the bill for everything:
Pennsylvanians are only slowly becoming aware that we are under siege. More than a thousand Marcellus Shale drill sites are in the works, with tens of thousands more poised to descend on Penn’s Woods, its towns and neighborhoods, threatening to poison water tables, suck streams dry, pollute the air with ear-splitting noise and toxic fumes — all without meaningful regulation, without meaningful taxation.
Like coal, which successfully resisted a severance tax, leaving taxpayers and volunteer associations to wrestle with the social and environmental damage wrought by more than a century of exploitation, gas drillers enabled by politicians expect Pennsylvania to remain the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax. These deep-drilled deposits of natural gas will be severed from the commonwealth forever without compensation and with little or no enforceable liability for the devastation wrought on the land, water and air. We cannot allow this to happen!
Without labor protections, community protections, landowner protections and public health protections, we cannot allow this toxic invasion to proceed.
Because, you know, if we tax them they’ll move overseas. Wait, what?
Not mentioned is the increased traffic from ginormous trucks moving at ludicrous speed on roads that would terrify most of you just to drive on, let alone with big rigs blasting down them 20 miles over the limit. I don’t know how many of you have experience driving on side roads in this region, but they aren’t very wide or straight, and I fully expect to be reading about families of five killed and the like. I’m not sure if these are the vehicles I’ve been encountering lately, but I’ve even switched some of the roads I drive on the maniacs are so reckless. Washington Pike in between Washington, PA and Wellsburg, WV is pretty much unsafe at any speed when the trucks are on the road, particularly between Independence and Washington. It is even worse than the coal trucks in southern WV, and I’m not even going to go into the damage the traffic from heavy vehicles will do to the road and normal vehicles.
Regardless, if history is any guide, they will extract all the resources, leave a disaster in their wake for us to clean up, and then everyone can get back to making jokes about people’s teeth in Appalachia and wondering why the states don’t have any money to enter the 21st century. On the upside, coal, steel, and the chemical industry have already destroyed most of our waterways, so nobody eats what they fish anymore, anyway.
(via the Powder Blue Satan)