EDITOR: At 7 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2011, in spite of 22,094 comments objecting to this project, 35 bi-partisan Pa. state representatives, 2 state senators, the EPA, the Sierra Club, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, and many other organizations across Pa., the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved and granted a certificate to Inergy/CNYOG to begin construction on the MARC-1 Pipeline Project. With this certificate, FERC has granted them the power to exercise eminent domain on private property owners who can not agree to their terms, or simply chose to say No to having a 30″ pipeline run across their property, even if it means the loss of use of that property by the property owner for agriculture, farming, recreation, or simply to have a safe, quiet property where we can raise our families, or pass on to future generations.
To add insult to injury, the environmental protections, setbacks from residential areas, upgraded materials and safety standards have apparently been removed from their application. They will primarily be using “class one” safety standards, which means minimum safety precautions and materials, minimum noise control [if any], and emission/pollution controls.
It will also be the enabler for virtually hundreds of unregulated gathering lines, an unknown number of compressor stations, and turn New Albany, Monroeton, Dushore, Laporte, Lake Mokoma, Sonestown, Muncy Valley, Beech Glen, Glenn Mawr, Picture Rocks, and Hughesville into a drilling corridor for the gas industry. This signals the end of agriculture, tourism, fishing, hunting, new home building, small businesses, as well as our way of life in the Endless Mountains. It will also have a devastating effect on property values, quality of life, public health and safety, while ultimately increasing property taxes to offset the damage to our already fragile infrastructure. Corporate profits will socialize the cost to those who live in the most heavily impacted areas.
This permit, along with HB 1950 and SB 1100 that will remove, and prompt the right of municipalities to enact their own regulations, ordinances, laws, protections, and safety standards regarding oil and gas development in and around our communities.
In short, life as we’ve known it is now over for Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming counties, and life across rural Pa. This change will not be for the better. A 7- to 10-year “boom/bust” cycle, which we are already 3.5 years into, will leave rural Pa. a toxic and unlivable industrial and economic wasteland when all those “industry jobs” move on.
We owe our children, and our children’s children yet to be born, an apology for leaving this world in far worse shape than we received it, and for the burdensome financial responsibility for it they will inherit.
I’d like to remind everyone to take the opportunity to appropriately thank our obtuse local (Sullivan County Commissioners; Darla Bortz, Betty Reibson, and Bob Getz,) (Bradford County Commissioners John Sullivan and Doug McLinko) and state/federal lawmakers (Senator Pat Toomey and Congressman Tom Marino), who went out of their way to “urge FERC to overlook the concerns and interests of local citizens and approve the MARC-1.”
At this point, considering the FERC approval, and the horrific legislation poised to be passed, I no longer see a political solution, legislative remedies, or effective legal recourse to what is being forced upon us by the gas and oil industry with the consent of our elected leaders. Beyond an environmental problem, and a health and public safety problem, the bigger issue is that we have a democracy problem and a leadership problem in Pennsylvania that is bi-partisan.
Our system of government has morphed into a corrupt “corpocracy” whose goal is to control us by taking control of the essential ingredients of our existence: affordable and sustainable energy, pure water, clean air, and our sense of place.
This morning, I awoke in the security of my “home.” Tonight, I will lay down in just a “house” that I happen to own that has not had safe potable water for two months, and may never have again. I no longer have a “sense of place,” or a feeling of “home” here, knowing that I have no voice, no rights as a PA citizen/property owner, and am of no concern to political/corporate the powers that be. I am, as we all are now in Pennsylvania, politically insignificant, and simply “in the way” of the gas industry’s corporate special interests.