I've lived with this stuff for as long as I've lived in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Everyone here has, at least everyone in coal mining territory. We know a little bit about the damage unrestrained greed can do to the environment. We know what happens when you let an industry do its thing without restriction or meaningful oversight.
So when we tell you that the systems and methods being used to extract natural gas deposits from the Marcellus Shale are a bad idea, you damned well better listen. Because we know what we're talking about. And we know what the consequences will be.
Mark Cour at Wilkes-Barre Online (and later Circumlocution for Dummies) has been talking about this for a very long time, since well before most residents of these parts had even heard of the process. See what he wrote about two-thirds of the way down on "Frickin' fracking?" from July of 2008, and his interview with clean-water enthusiast Kayak Dude about halfway down on this entry from January of 2009. Mark also links to a helpful Salon.com post that explains what fracking is.
Kayak Dude - also known as Don Williams - was all over this back when the rest of us, if questioned, might have identified Marcellus Shale as the heavy in Pulp Fiction. Now that the rest of us have heard a little more about it, and possibly read or heard news reports of problems with gas extraction. Don's still on it. Check out his blog, The Susquehanna River Sentinel. (Unfortunately, his blog is not structured for direct links to specific posts, so you will have to step through using the "Next" button at the bottom to find relevant entries. However, as long as natural gas extraction continues to be an environmental threat, and continues to damage freshwater resources, you won't have to look very long. UPDATE 3/29/2012: A while back Don switched to a different platform that allows easier access to individual posts. His new site is at http://srs444.blogspot.com/.)
Today Gort from Gort42 posted a link-heavy blog entry that included an open letter from Don on the issues associated with natural gas extraction. You should read the whole entry, the letter, and the linked articles as well.
Here in coal country, we've been through this sort of thing before. We know what can come of it. And we know that problems will linger long after the corporate entities that caused them have moved on.
Coal mining in this area ended with the Knox Mine Disaster on January 22, 1959. That was more than fifty years ago. We still haven't healed the scars or repaired the damage. How long will it take to overcome the damage caused by irresponsible and environmentally destructive natural gas extraction processes?