On the April 1st post at GDAcoalition.org I wrote about a man I had spoken to. He told me how he was unable to sell his home due to its proximity to leased land. Here is an urgent email from his daughter in response to the post:
I am the eldest daughter of the 85 year young (thank you!) gentleman whose beautiful home in Dallas Township was under agreement until the Buyers learned of the existence of a gas lease on property adjacent to my Dad’s home. The sale of my Dad’s home was the first step in preparing to move my Dad to my sister’s home in Bethlehem. My family had started to make arrangements to sell the contents of his home, and, in contemplation of the sale, had in fact sold my Dad’s beloved Steinway grand piano (many in the Wilkes Barre Valley will know my Dad as the long time pianist for the Lee Vincent Orchestra), when the Buyers abruptly withdrew their offer upon learning of the gas lease. Thus our family has experienced in a very direct and personal way, the devastating impact these gas leases can have on individual property owners. Now we wonder whether anyone will want to buy my Dad’s home, and, if so, at what price? Who would have thought that the beautiful woods, meadows and ponds surrounding my Dad’s home would someday become a liability rather than an asset?
For my family, this recent experience was a wake up call. We applaud your efforts on behalf of clean water and preserving a livable environment for the residents of the Back Mountain area. These efforts serve the larger community and are clearly the more important mission of your organization. However, before it is too late, we also want to bring to the attention of Back Mountain area residents the potential impact of these leases on their property values. Like my Dad, many area residents may be unaware that a gas lease exists near their home and the activities that are allowed under the lease (testing, drilling, laying pipeline, installing lease roads, installing pumps, compressors, separators, tanks, power stations, transporting oil and gas by pipeline or otherwise, “and all other rights and privileges necessary, incident to, or convenient for the economical operation of said Leasehold Premises…” quoting from the Memorandum of Oil and Gas Lease impacting my Dad’s home). I hope that you will communicate our fears to the local area elected representatives. It is truly a scandal that at all levels – national, state and local – elected officials have failed to protect ordinary citizens with reasonable regulation of the gas industry.
Finally, I want to call your attention to the recent PBS program, NOW, hosted by David Bronchoccio, which during the week of March 26, 2010 aired a segment entitled “Gasland.” In what can only be described as an “eye opener,” this program explored the fracking process, focusing much of the discussion on the proliferation of gas drilling in Pennsylvania – particularly the Pocono region. I urge you to go on the web site to view a video of this program. The web site is found at: http://www.pbs.org/now/. Scroll down to “This Weeks most popular video’s” and click on “Gasland.” You may want to consider contacting PBS/NOW to obtain permission to show the video at one of your community meetings. I found it very powerful.
Thank you for your past and continuing efforts to preserve the beauty and serenity of the Back Mountain area from the gas drilling industry.