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Writer warns of gas-drilling risks

Recently, the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania have been inundated with a potential economic windfall from natural gas companies scouring our region for landholders to secure the mineral rights to their properties.

Promises are being made and checks have been cut to unsuspecting landowners looking to make a fast dollar by turning over their land to these companies for the rights to drill for gas. This natural gas deposit, while large, at more than 2.8 trillion cubic feet of gas, extending from New York to Virginia, is only a small part of the 30 trillion cubic feet of total, annual, natural gas production by our country.

One of the reasons our new president was elected was on the position that we need to free our country from the dependence on foreign oil. In addition, he made it clear that domestic drilling was not the answer, and we as a nation are short-sighted to think that it is. Our dependence on fossil fuels is the real problem.

In addition to the hazards of global warming, we in Northeastern Pennsylvania are facing a new threat from the potential drilling of our lands by these companies exploring for the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale deposit that lies beneath our homes and surrounds our water supplies.

Developing this shale formation requires large amounts of fresh water to fracture the shale in order to extract the natural gas. Developing our energy resources cannot come at the expense of our environmental resources. In Alabama, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, incidents have been recorded in which residents have reported changes in water quality or quantity following fracturing operations of gas wells.

Despite all of these hazards to our safe drinking water supplies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate the injection of fracturing fluids under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that is allowed by the agency to inject known hazardous materials, unchecked, directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies.

People intent on making a quick profit by leasing their land to the natural gas companies in most cases are unaware of the potential risks.

We are all aware of how disrespectful lumber companies and coal companies have been in the past when they are going after a natural resource to make a profit.

Please consider carefully the short-term profits offered in exchange for the long-term negative consequences to your land and water supply.

Read your contracts carefully, make sure appropriate safeguards are in position, and please have your water tested at least six months in advance, before any drilling begins. If you have no baseline of your water quality to compare against the potential contaminated water that can be expected, you will have no legal recourse in the future.

Northwest teachers are taken to task

What happened to school boards? Maybe the school boards have wised up lately. They won’t sacrifice the taxpayers to the teachers.

The children are being shortchanged. Programs are allowed to vaporize. Buildings fall into disrepair. Supplies for students are unavailable. Old textbooks with no covers and missing pages are the norm. Why? Because teachers’ benefits and large salaries make up three-quarters of the budget.

The truth about school boards is that the taxpayers of Northwest Area School District did pick the right representatives. And teachers are overpaid and underworked.

We should get the product that we pay for and we are not getting it. From what I am told, teachers aren’t even teaching the students; substitutes are. The teachers are away on field trips and conferences that are costing us.

And don’t tell me that well-compensated teachers produce top-notch, employable citizens. I’m from Missouri; you gotta show me.

That’s why only 36 percent of 11th-graders scored at grade level in science. So how about the teachers get their heads out of the sand, join the real world and contribute to your health care like the rest of us professionals?

Writer will miss use of Moon Lake

Many people enjoy Moon Lake Park in the summer months, but I wonder how many people realize the benefits of the park when it snows.

I have enjoyed snowshoeing and have been using Moon Lake for many years. (Luzerne County budget problems have recently forced the seasonal closure of the park.) It had been a great place to snowshoe or cross country ski, and yet it was rarely used for those purposes.

To go across the wide open fields and feel the wind in your face is exhilarating. To use some of the trails through the woods and stop and just “listen to the silence” is to put one closer to God.

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