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Issue Home August 18, 2010 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Too Much To Ask?

I don't want to stop drilling for Natural Gas. We need the energy. But do you think we could do so without a few of the 500+ chemicals they dump down the wells - chemicals that stay down there and poison the water table, or have gotten spilled into streams?

What we need is a law requiring Gas Companies to disclose the names of all the chemicals they use in the fracking process. We need to repeal the exemption Dick Cheney got them from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. We need government oversight, with teeth, to protect the health and property of Americans. Why should either be sacrificed as a cost of doing business?

We also need the Republicans not to demagogue this, and for the Democrats to regain their soul. Corporate lapdoggery should be an embarrassment.


Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA

So Long, Susquehanna!

What an honor it has been to live here in Susquehanna County for the past seven and a half months! In January I moved here to finish my 2 year missionary service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I must say that the area has really grown on me since I got here. My first night here, I was greeted by a wonderful family and upon leaving their home, slipped down their icy front steps! Welcome to NEPA! I am originally from Utah where we have lots of snow, but not this much ice. That took some getting used to. Not only in walking around town but driving our Chevy up and down the slippery slopes of Susquehanna Depot.

Once Springtime came I felt as if I was living in a St. Patrick's Day world being surrounded with endless green! Never in my life have I experienced such lush scenery all around me, not to mention the beautiful orange tiger lilies that lined the highways and streets. As summer drew near, I began to experience the humidity of a lifetime! Whew, what a transition from my arid desert home out West. Luckily I came equipped with a hankie to wipe my forehead and face whenever my extreme perspiration set in!

Thank you for allowing me to feel so at home here in your community. Many of you have invited the other missionaries and me into your homes to share a meal, or have supported us in our Free Hot Dog Friday events. I was also very impressed with the Hometown Days celebration where we set up a booth with a two-man saw race.

I will never forget the countless times I have picked up spiedies from Fred's Market to grill for a delicious afternoon lunch, or picked up a delicious soft serve ice cream cone from Rooney's in Thompson. The personal stromboli at the Depot restaurant has become one of my favorite meals and the downtown cleanup projects have brought our little town up to par.

When I return home I will always speak fondly of this area and the people who make it such an interesting and enjoyable place to live. I would hope that each of you will take a chance to visit the Mormon Monument on route 171 between Oakland and Great Bend to learn of the incredible events that took place near the river there. It has been a privilege to speak with so many of you about our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love and appreciate your hospitality and kindness so much. Keep it up Susquehanna County! Adieu!


Elder Patrick Ulrich

Susquehanna, PA

Take The Lipstick Off The Pig!

An Open letter to Rep. Garth Everett (R-84, Lycoming County) and Rep. Marc Gergely, (D-35, Allegheny County) re: their proposed forced-pooling legislation, currently known as the “Conservation Pooling Act:”

Putting the word “Conservation” in the title of your un-American proposal will not change this sow’s ear into a silk purse. The fact that no less than thirty-one environmental organizations have urged Pennsylvania state legislators to reject the bill tells the true story.

Your bill would allow large national and international gas companies to take the property of Pennsylvania landowners. That’s the concept - it's not pure, but it is simple. So end the tricky word revisions. Calling it “fair pooling” instead of “forced pooling” may smear more lipstick on this dirty pig, but it does not change its true nature.

Without government interference, subsurface-only gas leases have already been signed for thousands of dollars per acre and royalties of up to 20%. Just as the per-acre price is rising, you come along with discussion of forced pooling. Your interference in private enterprise has created a detrimental climate for further negotiation of subsurface-only leases. Why would a gas company offer a fair sign-on price or fair royalties now when they can sit back and wait for the government to hand landowner property over on a silver platter?

One has to ask: Why would state legislators want to cancel the per-acre sign-on payments for subsurface-only leases and roll royalties back to 12.5 percent? And what is this mumbo jumbo in the legislation about landowners being forced to pay “their fair share” to develop the well? This sounds like the tricky original contracts some naïve landowners signed in the early days of the gas boom. Why do some state legislators want to move backward to these unfair terms? Doing so is stealing future wealth out of the hands of PA families and handing it over to big gas!

Rep. Everett, you say some landowners are concerned they might be “skipped over” by companies developing only large acreages or that their gas might be “stolen” by companies drilling near their property and that forced pooling will end these worries. Well, I am a PA landowner, I live surrounded by landowners, I have not heard one single landowner express concern about being “skipped over.” In fact, nearly every parcel of land in our township (no matter how small and including the local cemeteries) has already been leased. Granted, the remaining parcels are of great value to gas companies; so let the contract negotiations move forward unencumbered by government threats of forced pooling. The issue of “stolen” gas is easily solved by making gas companies treat landowners who retain their gas rights as they would treat another gas company. These companies manage to not steal each other’s gas.

Let’s look at a few facts: We already have more than thirty families in Susquehanna County who can no longer drink their water. Air quality around drilling sites may be compromised. Compressor stations often operate at a sound level that is a constant annoyance to humans and detrimental to breeding habits of wildlife. Our clean water is being siphoned out of rivers and streams and turned into toxic waste in the fracking process. We have no safe way to clean or recycle waste water currently being stored on many drilling sites in open pits that can overflow in storms, often leak, and are sometimes mistaken for ponds by migrating wildlife. We do not yet understand how banks and other mortgage companies or insurance companies will handle property with gas leases. We do know having a gas lease, which creates a “split estate,” brings a property’s resale value down. For environmental or health reasons, landowners with drilling near their homes might be forced to move away from their property without being able to sell it! Additionally, if a well is capped because of violations or for environmental reasons, there will be no royalty payments! Landowners who lease need to understand these risks. The risks involved are the reason a fair up-front payment is so critical for those who lease, including those who lease subsurface-only rights. Your proposed legislation steals property, saddles landowners with all the risks mentioned above, and robs individuals of their right to fair contract negotiations.

I understand this legislation was largely written by the gas industry. Perhaps it should not surprise us, then, that it takes property away from citizens and places it in the hands of industry with government oversight. This legislation doesn’t sound like the Republican Party or Democratic Party; it sounds like the Communist Party! One has to wonder why any state legislators would contemplate jumping into the back pocket of the gas industry, but, gentlemen, it stinks in there. This is a case were it is not enough for representatives or senators to sit back with a wait-and-see attitude. We need everyone to work to defeat this proposed bill.


Joyce Libal

Little Meadows, PA

Restoring Honor

I am beginning to understand as never before what a woman must experience when she is raped. Most rapes occur in circumstances where the woman knows her attacker. She has probably entrusted her safety into the hands of the acquaintance in question. He has probably assured her, by word or action, that he is trustworthy and she had no reason to be reluctant to allow herself to enter into a vulnerable situation. When the attack occurs, there is almost no way the victim can call for assistance. It is up to her to fend off her assailant or be subject to unbelievable humiliation and violation. Sometimes, serious injury or even death occur. In most cases, she will fail to fend off her attacker and becomes the victim and is scarred for life. Her life is changed irrevocably, always for the worse.

I find myself currently feeling like lady Liberty herself is under violent sexual assault. She is being stripped off all dignity. She is being humiliated and violated. She is being harmed in such unimaginable ways that all who depend on her for protection are at grave risk. The people to whom we entrusted our lives and fortunes are betraying us at every turn. There is no tenderness in rape as there is no tenderness in the actions of our representatives as they squander the resources of our land and liberty to their own selfish agenda of power and control. They create bigger and bigger government to monitor and control our every breath. They reward those who have not earned it with the bounty created by the toil and sweat of others. Under the guise of compassion they enslave more and more of us, all the while buying the allegiance of their minions with the financial future of our grandchildren.

The women who are attacked by the sexual predator are going to have to fend off the attacker by their own means. Likewise, the citizens of our great, but diminishing, country are going to have to fend off the attacks of those who would change our way of life. Currently, we are less than three months from a game changing election. We have it in our power to defeat our attacker - the Progressive agenda and those who promote it. We all have a choice to make - we are going to be raped or we are going to resist with every means available (short of physical violence). I intend to be present at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28. No signs, no clubs, no weapons other than our standing tall. August 28 - restoring honor.


Joe McCann

Elk Lake, PA

An Organized Land Grab

I just love a lively debate. Like everyone else, I stick firm to my opinion, unless it can be proved otherwise, and to my satisfaction, I am wrong. I have been told I must be crazy, no one will take your land, or your land rights - this is America, founded on the principal of land ownership. Right in our county, we had Gulasha Grow. Check out his claim to fame. Homesteading.

I see the writing on the wall, why in NY State, the federal branch of land grabbers, AKA the EPA is taking the show on the road, as they anticipate 8,000 people will show up. I understand the issue to be that no one wants to host this event, for safety reasons.

Now why would that be? Is it due to the fact that it could be an event for the unrulies to vent frustration at the government?

Or is it because the land grabbers are an organized group of citizens, who have gotten in through the back door, and others are becoming aware of the group of thieves?

I had a meal with two of our big elected folks - they sat through a wonderful and well documented presentation, by a geologist, regarding the Marcellus shale. As these facts became apparent, I mentioned to them how nice it will be that with this knowledge, the media will no longer be able to scare the public. They passed a "look" to one another, and took another bite.

I guess I can't be surprised this hasn't become part of the newsletter they send.

I guess when one could think that this isn't mentioned, what other things do they not tell you? I think if there were 8,000 people coming to a fundraiser, they would find security. When it becomes clear that the elected are also land grabbers, it makes one pause and think.

I'm not a stupid voter, and this will reflect in my vote in November.


Cynthia Allen

Summersville, PA

The Only Sure Winners

Gas drillers have sunk their teeth deep into Pennsylvania's methane-rich Marcellus shale, a mining operation that promises development, progress, money, and wealth. Most are convinced it's a promise that shall be kept. Others say it's a pact we'll live to bitterly regret. Who's right? Well, depending on how you define your words, both.

Part of the controversy lies in semantics. What does development mean? Is it the same as progress? And money, is it synonymous with wealth or can they, too, be defined differently?

And what about the vaunted benefits of jobs, weaning the nation off petroleum to natural gas, and a broader tax base that gas mining is hoped to bring?

To begin, let's take the key words and untangle their meanings. First, development and progress.

There is no question that a bustle of building and construction are taking place. Every day in Pennsylvania three new gas wells tap into the shale. But exactly what does this entail? Take a look at what one drilling site requires.

First water, lots of it. An average of 5.5 million gallons per well. That requires tanker trucks with an average capacity of 7,000 gallons to make about 800 trips. Add 200 more trucks to cart away the 1.5 million gallons of poisonous flowback from a well.

It means dump trucks carting away hazardous and in some cases radioactive drill tailings, and still more trucks loaded with fuel, supplies, parts. Add to this the auto traffic from workers.

Now double the traffic for the return trip.

A five-acre drill pad might have 12 wells, drilling one at a time. That means around-the-clock, 365- days-a-year drilling for three years. Flood lights turning night into day, air filled with the roar of machinery, the odors of diesel fumes and sundry toxic well gases.

To date there are 3,000 wells in Pennsylvania. The state is projected to have 100,000 wells.

Now that's development. It means building and construction on a scale that will change the very nature of the state, especially rural communities. But is it progress to destroy the quality of life, to reek havoc on the environment, to befoul our own nest?

Development and progress do not go hand-in-hand; often they are opposing forces.

Money and wealth and are often used interchangeably. But they are very different.

Money means a few extra zeros in one's bank account, the ability to pay bills, scrap the mortgage, go on a shopping spree, security. Yes, all that and more. But less than 2 percent of the population will reap economic benefits. The 98 percent will not or will be negatively affected.

For the 2 percenters, a royalty check is a blessing. But after two or three years well production drops sharply and with it the royalty payments and every year thereafter.

For those 98 percenters who reside near a well, their property value will take a hit. A drilling rig is not a selling plus. And what happens to the value of a house with a contaminated well? Many of the 98 percenters are at the noblesse oblige of the 2 percenters.

Like development and progress, money and wealth are also at odds.

Wealth is being at peace with God, one's neighbors, and one's self. It is the pleasure of living in a rural community with air heavy with the sent of growing things and the sounds of the woods. It is listening to quiet, watching deer feed on apples, planting tomatoes or flowers or nothing. It is mowing the grass and watching the trees cast their shadows a little sooner each day as a new season makes ready its appearance.

But these treasures are delicate, easily damaged, and seldom appreciated until gone. And landowners afflicted with greed and need - as we all are - put these treasures is an ever precarious existence. Money and wealth: the latter is always at the mercy of the former.

What about jobs?

Most of the high-paying jobs will go to trained and experienced out-of-state workers. The rest? Well a growing population will attract franchises and chains with openings for $8 or $9 an hour and forget about benefits.

As for weaning the nation off petroleum, last year gas averaged $11.26/1000 cubic feet, today it's $4.75. Not only is there a glut of natural gas, but consumption in the U.S. has remained constant since 1973.

Lastly, a broader tax basis? Increased municipal expenditures always outpace an increase in tax revenue. Just look at the financial predicament of almost any city.

Presently we're in the euphoric stage; the benefits are tangible and greater ones imagined. The negative results of industrialization are not seen; they cannot even be imagined. We, the environment, our way of life face a clouded future. But for one, the future is bright - the drilling companies; they are the only sure winners.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript

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