When you drive through the pastoral landscape of western Sullivan County (or neighboring Pike and Wayne counties across the river in PA), about the last thing that comes to mind is gas drilling. But that’s exactly what’s on the horizon, with all of its noise, disruption and environmental consequences.
The impending arrival of gas drilling has been in the newspapers here for months now, but I have to admit I haven’t paid that much attention. Gas company representatives have been approaching local landowners to sign gas leases, and they portray it all as rather benign. They’ll just make a little hole on your back 40, suck out some gas and send you nice fat checks. Heck, to hear them talk, you’ll hardly notice they’re even there.
But the more I learn, I’m coming to understand that the reality is very different. The use of toxic chemicals in the fracing process, polluted wells and ponds, drilling rigs and tanker trucks lumbering down roads at all hours of the day and night, tall rigs lit up 24/7 like Christmas trees. Over in Hickory, PA, the gas drillers have been doing their thing since 2006, and their experiences are very instructive — they aren’t a happy bunch. The gas companies are moving east, and have set their sights on the Delaware River valley.
I’ve posted a mailing from a group organizing against the drilling, Damascuscitizens.org. (Click here to get the .pdf of the mailing.) While you may not have any intention to sell the gas drilling rights on your property, your neighbor might. This is a difficult issue, because often local farmers are the landowners with the large acreage holdings that are most attractive to the gas companies. And those local farmers can have a tough time making ends meet – so the revenue from gas leases becomes very attractive.
I encourage you to learn more about this issue, because its something that could affect us all for a very long time.