Good piece from Mitchell Sommers on the burning town of Centralia (pictured above), the Marcellus Shale, and the ghosts of Pennsylvania's fossil fuel pollution, past and future:
To visit Centralia today is to visit intentional ruins. The streets are still there, big and wide, and narrow and residential, lying there in the most prosaic grid pattern everyone’s seen in every small town and big city anywhere. Stop signs still sit at intersections with no structures on any corner. Fire hydrants are still here, oblivious to the fact that they are useless to contain the fire that will likely burn for another 250 years or so. You can still easily demarcate where the houses were; there hasn’t been enough overgrowth yet to obliterate the sense of where the lots were. You have driveways, but no house foundations.
Then there’s the gas, rising above the ground. It’s not everywhere, but it’s not hard to find. A reminder, as if you needed one.
But we do. We need a reminder of what happens when you tear stuff out of the land without any thought to what happens both in the during and after stages of that, because Pennsylvania’s about to do it again, thanks to the Marcellus Formation Shale, or Marcellus Shale for short.
For starters, the governor just rescinded an environmental-protection effort of the Democratic Rendell administration requiring impact analyses prior to natural-gas drilling in state forests; and he let it be known that he won't tax the industry, and he'll lift a ban on leasing 800,000 more acres of state land to drillers.
This doesn't thrill environmentalists, hikers, campers and the like. It doesn't sit well with those concerned about toxic drinking water. But it sure makes things a whole lot easier for energy companies chasing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, the same companies that gave Corbett's campaign $835,720.
But give him this: He's doing what he said or implied he'd do; he's giving voters what they voted for.
And here's some breaking news: "Pennsylvania" is going to begin testing for radioactive water. And by "Pennsylvania," we mean two major water companies located in western Pa. The state of Pennsylvania? Test drinking water? Heaven forbid.