A cursory investigation reveals that inspections are not done as required in many cases. Inspector positions are dwindling while wells are proliferating rapidly. Sometimes personnel doing inspections have absolutely no training in that field. In some cases, gas companies are allowed to do their own reporting, believe it or not. If they say there is no problem, or the problem has been fixed, the DEC or the DEP just accepts that as fact. Case closed.
Click here to read the story of a North Texas rancher who is convinced that the pristine waters of the Brazos River are polluted due to contamination of the Seymour Aquifer that flows under his ranch. The contamination is being caused by an abandoned gas processing plant located just 400 feet from the river's edge.
Now before you dismiss this story, and say that Texas is far away and doesn't have any relevance to us here in Bradford County, just remember that Texas got the gas wells first and is much further along than PA and NY. However, we are living atop a much, much bigger shale formation than the Barnett ever thought of being, and the gas drillers are drooling over what they are going to get out of our land. As soon as drilling rigs in Texas become available, they are sent post haste to Bradford County and other areas of PA to be set up here. With the rigs comes the work force from Texas, many of whom are immigrants from Mexico. They need the jobs, and the gas industry would rather keep them on rather than training a whole new work force.
It is very disillusioning to realize that environmental agencies of the government do not protect our waterways, our forests, our air, our beautiful vistas (those scenic views we pull off the road to see). They are in place primarily, though they would probably not admit it, to assist the gas industry. I'm not saying that there aren't some state employees who try to do their jobs and who care about the environment and public health. But the whole system is set up bassackwards in favor of gas drilling. This is not the way it should be, nor does it have to be. But it is the way it is being done right now. If you look at aerial photographs of some places in the west, it looks like a moonscape or a pin cushion. That is because the process of gas drilling starts small and becomes huge over time. According to Don Young of FWCanDO (Forth Worth),the two words to watch out for when dealing with the gas industry, are "FOR NOW." "This is all we want FOR NOW," they say. The landmen only tell you a tenth of what they know, and believe me, they know what you are in for. The leases only get you started on the path. Then you begin to see more and more: The additional wells drilled if a lot of gas is found in a particular place, the water pumping stations needed, the meter stations, the pipelines, the gas processing plants, the felling of trees, the sludge pits, the huge 80,000 pound trucks by the hundreds, the noise, the bright lights. All these things come with the territory, and no regulatory agency has the capacity to oversee it all. And, of course, the gas industry is the only polluter that does not have to follow the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and other laws which protect us and the environment. In fact, there are less toxic ways of drilling and handling flowback water, and these methods are not being seriously considered at the moment because it is not the law.
WHEN GAS DRILLING BEGINS, OR WHEN THE FIRST TRUCK APPEARS, WHEN SEISMIC TESTING OCCURS, WHATEVER IS HAPPENING, LANDOWNERS WILL HAVE TO BE THEIR OWN WATCH DOGS. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A VIDEO CAMERA AND A DIGITAL CAMERA. DOCUMENT WHAT YOU SEE. EXPECT THAT AT SOME POINT WE WILL HAVE TO GO TO COURT. THIS IS A BUSINESS, AND A FULL TIME ONE AT THAT.