Friday, December 11, 2009

Natural gas drilling still creating headaches--and riches--for rural residents

Two recent stories in the New York Times have reported on the local consequences of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and New York. Read these stories here and here about drilling in the Marcellus shale formation.

The more recent story, by Jad Mouawad and Clifford Kruass,"Dark Side of a Natural Gas Boom," features the dateline Dimock, Pennsylvania, population 1,398. Its focus is on pollution caused by the drilling, in particular, groundwater contamination. In Dimock, 13 wells have been contaminated, and one blew up. But the story also touches on pollution of other sorts, like noise pollution. Here's an excerpt:
The hills around Dimock have been bulldozed to clear the ground for dozens of drilling pads the size of football fields. Eighteen-wheelers thunder down narrow country roads, kicking up dust and fumes. Recently, a helicopter buzzed overhead while dangling heavy cables used for seismic tests.
The dateline for the earlier story, "At Odds Over Land, Money and Gas," by Mireya Navarro, is Chenango, New York, population 11,454. This story appeared in the Environment section of the paper, but it has a significant human interest angle. Navarro observes the complex, mixed reactions in the "rural communities above the shale," concerns similar to those across the state line in Pennsylvania.

Some residents welcome the drilling as a modern-day gold rush and salvation from the economic doldrums that they say have chased jobs and young people away from their area. Others express concerns about the environment and quality-of-life issues like noise and heavy-truck traffic.

In some cases, the issue has pitted neighbor against neighbor or spouse against spouse.

Read more here, and don't miss this earlier post about drilling in the Marcellus shale.

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