Guinea Pigs Atop the Marcellus by Barb Jarmoska, Guest Editor

My Note: A couple of weeks ago, I watched an episode on CSI. The topic was about residents in the area of the gas company who were dying or being killed because they were trying to expose a natural gas operation that was poisoning the water of local residents. Then I saw a segment on 60 Minutes that guest editor Barb Jarmoska alerted me to watch.

The same subject was covered, but more of the emphasis was on how the farmers are becoming millionaires by allowing companies to drill for gas through the shale and less emphasis was on the people who can no longer drink their water, because the company’s are sidestepping many of the safety regulations.

Below is Barb’s editorial and some photos from a website on the same topic.  It is a subject that bears attention. Thanks to Barb for sending it and allowing me to reprint it. Barb mentions Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which I reviewed some time ago. I also reviewed Carson’s life and the controversies she faced after the book was published.  Unfortunately, her predictions are coming true!

I also Googled the topic and found an excellent website about the Marcellus Shale Drilling. It is: and the heading on the article is Bob’s Blog. This picture and the one below the article is from that website.

Don’t Drink the Water
This raccoon didn’t get far after taking a sip of runoff water from another drill pad

I Goolgled the topic and found an excellent website about the Marcellus Shale Drilling. It is: and the heading on the article is Bob’s Blog. This picture is from that website.


Guinea Pigs Atop the Marcellus By Barb Jarmoska, Owner of Freshlife Foods in Williamsport, PA.

Those of us who live atop PA’s Marcellus Shale are both witnesses of and intimately woven into a clash of values. The dividing line is deep. Simply put, it is corporate interests and private profits vs quality of life and the health of the land and all who walk, run, fly, swim, hop and crawl upon it.

Talk to scientists who are not on the payroll of the gas industry and you will hear concern on many fronts. Biochemists talk about volatile organic compounds and other air pollutants; hydrologists discuss frack water and the potential destruction of our streams, rivers and aquifers; environmental scientists discuss forest fragmentation and loss of biodiversity; and PhDs such as Theo Colburn, zoologist and toxicologist, talk about endocrine disruptors and the grave risk these chemicals pose to human health.

The predictions of these scientists do not bode well for our grandchildren and future generations. It would seem logical that we all want clean water, clean air and healthy children. Yet we are now sacrificing all 3 for corporate interests and the lure of enormous profits in the hands of a very few.

The multinational energy giants have been quietly laying the groundwork for this gas rush for some time. In 2005, they cleverly exempted themselves from the Federal Clean Air and Water Acts. Then came the landmen, knocking on doors, waving fistfuls of cash, and spouting industry lies about clean energy and the untold wealth we could all expect. Private leases were signed with nary a hesitation – and public land was leased by the state, giving gas companies the right to thousands upon thousands of acres of our once common wealth.

What the industry failed to point out is significant. The FHA will not approve a new mortgage on a leased property. Alongside the gas rush, roads and infrastructure suffer significant damage, unnamed pollutants are unleashed into our air and water, already challenged social services are additionally burdened, vast tracts of Pennsylvania farm and woodlands are industrialized, and that the health of present and future generations is put at serious risk.

In the past 40 years, neurological disorders in children have increased 600%. Childhood cancers have risen by 38%. One in 7 women are now diagnosed with breast cancer. What’s happening? Why do politicians refuse to recognize that the proof they are demanding already exists as hindsight?

In 1962, New Yorker magazine published the first of a collection of essays that would become Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Carson asked, “Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poison on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for life?” The chemical industry response to Carson was chillingly similar to the gas industry response to the movie Gasland and to those who are speaking out about the many and frightening unknowns we face in the rush to drill.

Monsanto called Carson “a fanatical defender of the cult of the balance of nature”. The National Agricultural Chemicals Association published a debunking Carson piece, and assured readers that DDT would disappear from the human body in 90 days.  Forty years later, DDT is found in virtually every human body in this country, including the unborn who receive a pre-birth dose of DDT in placental blood.

Today, in Harrisburg, the Department of Environmental Protection is now housed in the Rachel Carson Building in honor of this vindicated pioneer and champion of truth.

The gas industry is counting on our ignorance, shortsightedness, and complete inability to learn from history.

As the projected 100,000 PA wells are drilled and the landscape is forever blighted and industrialized, how many more children will be diagnosed with neurological disorders? How many more with brain tumors and cancer that the industry will deny all responsibility for? Who will bear the cost of treating the sick, cleaning up the spills, providing water to those whose aquifers and poisoned, and restoring streams and rivers when they longer teem with life?  How much destruction and heartache will this industry leave in its wake? No one knows, and those in power are largely intoxicated by the promise of wealth. Truth vanishes when seen through the lens of greed.

This month, the NY Senate overwhelmingly approved a moratorium on gas well drilling in that state. The Delaware River Basin Commission approved a moratorium on drilling in that watershed here in PA. Are those if us who live along the Susquehanna and her tributaries less worthy of protection? Who voted us the guinea pigs?  The gas industry has painted its bullseye in our collective backyard. The bow is drawn, the permits are being issued by the thousands with nary a blink.

Hundreds of trucks roar past my property each day carrying gravel, pipeline, water, chemicals and waste. The ground shakes, diesel fumes fill the air and I watch and grieve that the word moratorium is not even a part of the discussion here in Pennsylvania.

If we can’t trust our legislators and government officials to hold the reins on this industry until such time that the true consequences of gas drilling and hydrofracking technology can be investigated and proven – where are we to turn?

Daniel Webster once said, “Who will show me any Constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything truly valuable in life whenever the purposes of an ambitious government may require it?” Webster’s question resonates in our midst.

My Postscript:  Here is another photo from the website. Hydro-fracturing (“fracking”) is the method the companies use to drill through the shale to “mine” the gas. It is supposed to be safe, but based on what I have been reading and seeing, it is not as safe as the companies say because of shortcuts and accidents.  Another Love Canal???

Pollution from Hydro-Fracturing
Leaks, Seeps, Spills & Runoff

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