Corbett paddles kayak through Marcellus Shale country

Talk about paddling into the belly of the beast.

Gov. Corbett hopped in his new kayak Wednesday for a three-day river trip in the far northeast corner of the state to promote tourism.

He’ll be floating right through the heart of the Marcellus Shale drilling region, where conflicts between tourists and landowners and gas drillers - not to mention incidents of gas-related pollution - are on the rise.

"I've wanted to do this for a long time,'' Corbett said, shortly before starting his trip on a branch of the Susquehanna River in Wyoming County.

Planning for the trip began when First Lady Susan Corbett gave him a kayak for his birthday, he said.

The first stop for Corbett and his paddling entourage was a tour of the 96-year-old Tunkhannock Viaduct — the world’s largest poured-concrete railroad bridge.

It wasn’t long after the news the kayak tour had begun that the Pennsylvania Democratic Party saw an opening to throw frack water on Corbett’s parade.

The party sent out an email to reporters noting that there have been three spills of gas-drilling fluid waste into a “high value” stream that forced drilling operations to be temporarily suspended in Susquehanna County north of where Corbett set off.

“We certainly hope it gives him pause to consider some of the impacts fracking has on habitats, local wildlife and resources and that he takes a more robust, proactive approach to environmental protection,” said party spokesman Mark Nicastre.

Corbett ends his trip Friday in Wilkes-Barre.

- Amy Worden



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