This morning, I heard a commercial that starts out about some young boy fishing with his father on or near a lake or stream in Pennsylvania, mostly likely a rural part of the state, as the scene is described a bit, and the kid grows up and leaves the state to find work elsewhere, because there were no jobs for him here.
Then it goes on to talk about how natural gas drilling is bringing lots of jobs to the state and now the boy who grew up can move back home and work on the Range Resources gas drilling rigs and such. All the while extolling the greatness of natural gas and how wonderful it is that he can now have a job close to home.
Okay, from a very wonderland and seemingly practical perspective, on the surface it seems like there’s NO problem with any of that and it’s a happy ending to a story for someone and might sound nice to a lot of people, who’ve been out of work and are pressured into taking whatever jobs they can at this point to survive.
HOWEVER! Let’s take a peek at a few things that were “glossed” over that are missing from this happy story that make it a lot of nice fiction without a lot of harsh facts and ugly truth.
1) The lake or stream that he used to fish in as a kid, will more than likely fall victim to complete and utter pollution from the proces of extracting the very same natural gas that would be responsible for him having a job. So, basically, he gets to throw away some of very things he loved about his home area, while probably not making a lot of money working for the stingy and non-union gas drilling companies. After all, they’re hiring less than highly educated rural Pennsylvanians who need work and let’s be brutally honest, they’re likely to work for what they think is a good wage, even if you really look at it and it’s not.
2) The problem in the first place that drove the boy in the commercial to leave Pennsylvania is a problem that has plagued our entire nation since the government, through business lobby efforts made it a great thing to ship jobs overseas. No politician, of any party, who supports the continued policies of shipping jobs to cheaper areas should say ONE DAMN THING! about job creation here at home through the private sector. They are being complete frickin’ hypocrits and nothing more! So, realistically the natural gas companies are really just overlooking that fact and truth because for them it’s not about why he left, but why he should return. Yet, it is important because if the jobs hadn’t left, where would that kid probably be…hmm…still probably in Pennsylvania quite well perhaps.
3) The pressure of the lack of jobs and the continued removal of work from the rural parts of Pennsylvania and other areas ofthe country are forcing people into making the kinds of ugly, self-destructive, and long-term harmful decisions to survive now because the gas companies are offering the jobs and sadly some have to take whatever work they can, as opposed to being able to have a choice in the matter and being able to stand up to what is arguably one step or two removed from land piracy and whole sale racketeering by the gas industry upon the poor and unemployed of Pennsylvania, or preying on their emotions with notions of huge royalty payments and other such dreams of being rich beyond whatever dreams they’ve had to date.
Take into account those 3 points with the commercial and you start to realize why gas drilling in Pennsylvania right now is in need of serious control, oversight, and taxation to make sure we don’t ruin this damn state anymore than it has been soiled and screwed with already. Again, does anyone remember a little town in Columbia County called Centralia that up until the coal industry had its way was a nice little town with decent, hard-working people trying to live their lives in peace, only to now have a smoldering, still-burning, ever-growing crater for a town left these days? Do you really want to make large sections of Pennsylvania look like that folks? seriously? I’m not trying to scare you. It happened once with coal, and it could happen again with the impact of all this gas drilling. When will you decide enough is enough? When some part of the Susquehanna River catches fire from the amount of residual natural gas and other flammable compounds that are leaching into it and other lakes, streams, and creeks in this area? When you can’t fish in just about any water body in this state, because the fish are either all dead, contaminated to the point of not being able to eat them, or simply gone altogether because their eggs can’t hatch so there’s no way to replace the species over time?
Yes, Pennsylvania used to be the oil drilling capital of the United States and the world for a time, but that was in a day and a time when things were not done so haphazardly and there was not so much at stake in human terms and the technology to drill for oil was at least standardized and even then it was taxed properly for its extraction and production. Yes, Pennsylvania is still home to successful coal operations that have also had their share of environmental and safety problems with workers dying or being trapped. Yes, natural gas can be mined reasonably and more safely and with proper controls and fees paid for covering the cost of the cleanup and environmental care of the state and the local areas that are most affected by this new “gold rush” of drilling. Yet, our newly elected leaders don’t want to even consider it and have been slow to believe that what’s going on is quite potentially harmful to the state and its future, because they only see the money of it and not the tax money of it, but the money their making on the gas futures and land they’ve sold or developed for drilling and the contributions they’ve taken from companies and firms who lobby against any controls or any regulation or any extraction fees for environmental compensation or local municipal compensation.
The natural gas and other power companies want you to believe that prices will have to spike up a lot if any sort of gas extraction tax or fees are levied on them, but really what it amounts to is EXTORTION on the part of big business to get what they want and not have to pay for it at all. They want licensed thievery and not much else. Gas is already dirt cheap, cheaper than it’s been in years and that’s before Marcellus Drilling began folks! I had to do everything not to laugh my ass off at the jokers from the power company at a professional seminar I was at recently about electric rate deregulation and purchasing power for business use and such. They are really trying to hard sell everyone and scare them into higher prices and sadly because the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) usually rolls over and accepts the requests to raise rates and not really exercise much of any oversight on the utilities in PA, the power companies will probably get away with some of it.
So, again, are glad you voted for who you did, are you really expecting them to do right by you and do you really understand that they told you what you wanted to hear because they knew you were mad and pissed and desperate for work so they’ll basically make you an offer you can’t refuse, but should’ve had the good sense to say NO to on election day? If you think you were made this year, take some blood pressure pills and make a doctor appointment for the coronary you’re gonna give yourselves in 2 or 4 years from now. Don’t say I didn’t tell ya so.