May 26, 2011 —
After seeing some TV advertisements for jobs recently in Towanda and other parts of Bradford County, where natural gas drilling is already taking place, and where a recent spill occurred, I decided to take a ride out there. On arrival I saw a town that was booming. People were cheerful; they looked happy and were very friendly. They did not hesitate to talk about gas drilling and how it is improving their economy. Gas companies are looking for truck drivers, security guards and laborers. Restaurants are seeking waitresses and other help. Motels were filled with signs saying “No Vacancy.” Supermarkets and mini-markets looked busy. I felt like I was in a different world compared to Sullivan County, NY.
I did see protesters holding signs about the accident and spill that recently occurred here. Chesapeake Energy Co. replaced a damaged wellhead, thus bringing everything under control. Tests have shown this spill had no effect on environment issues.
It seems that whenever someone slips on a banana peel, the anti-drilling protesters are right there. I did take notice, by talking to the protesters, that many were not from this immediate area, which gave me the impression of them being “professional protesters” because they will go anywhere to protest against drilling for natural gas.
I did not see any devastation of the environment or contamination of drinking water. I did not see or hear of any livestock being sickened from polluted water. I did not hear of people complaining from taking showers that lead to skin rashes and other medical problems. I did not notice dead fish floating in their streams. In fact, the Pennsylvania trout fishing season just opened and the streams were filled with fishermen catching trout and apparently enjoying themselves.
I was told that a farmer who leased his 250-acre farm for natural gas drilling has five working well pads on his land and is receiving royalties of $22,000 a week or $88,000 a month for a yearly income total of $1,056,000. He expects the gas company to be producing gas for at least 10 years.
I ask anyone who doubts what I saw in Bradford County to take a ride and see for yourself.
Recently, when the Highland Town Board presented resolutions to the county legislature and asked for their support, Sullivan County Legislator Frank Armstrong is reported to have said, “While I agree with the intent of taking care of roads, what this really is an anti-drilling statement. And if they’re asking the county for support on this issue, I think that’s the wrong direction we need to go in, especially in hard economic times.” Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer also indicated that industries like gas drilling are important to New York’s economy.
We need more people like Armstrong and Meyer to sound off. They realize the jobs and benefits that natural gas drilling would have for our county and New York State.
I am an environmentalist and have been one all my life. I own a 100-acre fishing lake in Bethel, and I believe the geologists, the experts and the knowledgeable people when they tell me they can drill for natural gas beneath my lake and not pollute it or any other waterway in Sullivan County. I know what natural gas drilling will do for the economy in Sullivan County and New York State.
Sullivan County, what are we waiting for? Drill, baby, drill.
[Jack Danchak is a resident of Swan Lake, NY.]