Guest Opinion on County Zoning Hearing

My thoughts and my sentiments are that the citizens are in a war here, a war to protect our water supply and the very air that we breathe, but are so out-powered and out-numbered by the huge money of the gas industry, who can buy our politicians and spread their propaganda faster than a wildfire. Incidentally, if and when one of these gas wells blows up, their is potential for a wildfire, not to mention the toxic chemicals it will spew into the air for a hundred miles or so.

The Zoning Hearing for the approval to give the go-ahead to EnCana to drill their well in Lake Township was a slam dunk before the hearing even began. The citizens had no chance at all, and I was convinced of this when I saw the extremely affectionate exchanges between the members of our Zoning Board and the representatives of EnCana at the table before the hearing began. EnCana sends in what appear to be ordinary citizens just like you and I. It would be far easier to enter into strong debate with the big shots in their fancy suits. These people all live in either Wyoming or Colorado so why would they care about our water & air quality. They are highly paid employees of the gas industry. While the citizens were strongly warned not to discuss water issues, EnCana proceeded to show their propaganda power point presentation and talk a whole lot about water! After all, isn’t water one of the most important issues in gas drilling operations? Millions of gallons of water are required for the fracking process of each individual well. Toxic chemicals are added to it before it gets put into the ground, and toxic chemicals remain in the portion of it that comes back up. The gas industry will put huge demands on our water supply and they have the potential to contaminate what water remains. Our small, rural communities are not ready for the gas industry. We are not trained or prepared to handle a gas well fire! In fact, we simply are not trained for any of this, and neither is DEP! Should we have the heavy rains we experienced in June of 2006 which destroyed roads and bridges, not to mention the near collapse of the Huntsville Dam, the plastic liner in the gas company “pit” will not keep it from over-flowing or the sides blowing out, and the toxic ingredients of the pits contaminating nearby creeks, streams, lakes, and yes, our aquifers!

As I take a look out over Harveys Lake and watch the trees slowly move to the breeze, and smell the clean air that is coming through my windows, I wonder what this scene will be in a few years, after the gas industry has bought out everyone, taken the gas and their money, and gone back to Colorado?

God help us all.

Michell’e T. Boice

5 Responses to Guest Opinion on County Zoning Hearing

  1. Cathy Link says:

    I agree with Mrs. Boice, especially about the training.

  2. Cindy Baum says:

    Once again, Michell’e is a voice of reason in a cacaphony of stupidity. It’s amazing how Luzerne County residents were overtaxed to compensate for years of waste, outright theft, and out-of-control school districts, and now these drilling operations can come in to further threaten our properties but will not contribute to the tax base. The whole beauty of the Back Mountain area is the wildlife and scenery, now in danger. We see in the Gulf what “progress” can do to an ecosystem when it is not carefully regulated and precautions are inadequate. I guess they figure it’s Luzerne County and no rules apply. I wonder how the next joke of a reassessment will overvalue properties when people’s wells are contaminated. This area has been in danger of going dry just because of all the lovely housing tracts that have gone up recently (not to mention that most of these eyesores are still largely unoccupied), so this should really finish us. Once again, our leaders have done a stellar job protecting the people they supposedly represent. Congratulations.

  3. L Peelle says:

    I own land in Tioga County and once again….the Politicians are selling the future of the next and next after that generation.

    What part of they work for US don’t they understand?? Come November, they’ll get the message…………

  4. Regarding the hearing at the Luzerne County Courthouse on Tuesday night, I was asked by the Citizens Voice for a citizens response. Like a fool I thought out of courtesy I would submit this to our local legislators to give them a heads up and try not to offend those that are actually trying to do something. Unfortunately, none of this was printed in the paper. Not that I expected the whole diatribe to be printed. I do not hold the reporter responsible, as she has been more than willing to share both sides of the issue, but I feel that someone connected to one of the legislators stopped my opinions from being printed. The same way an editorial I wrote has not been printed.
    Here is my response on the meeting that I submitted to the reporter:
    I believe there were a lot of good objections to the conditional use application put out there by concerned citizens and unfortunately, the board seemed to push a lot of their responsibility off on to the DEP. The DEP does require their own permitting for certain things regarding the drilling, but we tried to stay away from those issues and did not bring up the most important issues of air and water quality. The county zoning authorities are given the responsibility of protecting the citizens when reviewing applications for industrial use in an agriculturally zoned area. Although we understand their concerns in avoiding a lawsuit from the gas company, they were elected to look out for our interests, not theirs. The gas companies are out of town companies bringing in out of town jobs for the most part and looking to change the landscape of our suburban and agricultural countryside, putting our residents at risk from the well known and well researched air, water and environmental degradation and decreased property values in other areas of the state. Why the local residents are not put first in this decision making process amazes me in our supposedly democratic country. We certainly need our local legislators to step up and change the Gas Act and allow local zoning control over decisions affecting local residents. There is absolutely no reason the gas companies should be excluded by state laws from the local oversight that any other industry would be held accountable when setting up shop in a residential area. In addition, EnCana was caught a few times making false statements to the board, first with regard to the amount of water tanks stored on sight indicating at first it was 150 and then admitting it was really 192 when questioned further. They also indicated developing an emergency response plan and talking with local emergency responders and they did not even know there was not a police or fire department in lake township. These incidents along with some of their problems they have encountered in other parts of the country are serious deficiencies that indicate we cannot trust this company to act responsibly in developing this resource in our area. Although we appreciate the efforts by some local legislators to help regulate this industry better, I guess the big question for the many concerned residents opposed to the push for natural gas development in our area and threatening the water supplies for over 100,000 residents in Luzerne county is who is going to be the leader in standing up to these companies and protecting the residents that have elected them?
    Future suggestion, be wary of those politicians with whom you share information.

  5. Michell’e is 100% correct and if we do nothing about this situation now we will have another industry destroy what’s left of our beautiful community. A good expample is just look at what the coal industry did and the scars it left behind.

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