Event information: Shale gas workshop in partnership with Mountain Watershed Association (MWA), July 7, Buena Vista, PA
This week I dived into preparing for my second shale gas workshop of the summer, which was in partnership with Mountain Watershed Association. In Buena Vista, PA on Saturday July 7, five of us presented different sections of the workshop presentation to 20 passionate community members. The day before we had the opportunity to go well hunting. This includes finding the coordinates of high volume hydraulic fracturing sites, driving to the location, checking out the publicly accessible mailbox with information about the well pad, reading signage, and possibly seeing the site from a distance. We are not permitted to go onto active drilling sites due to safety concerns, and often there are signs warning against trespassing and that there is 24-hour surveillance. I thought it was interesting to transfer everything I read about in the ALLARM office to actual well sites and the impacted communities. Although I wish we could have visited an active drilling site, our adventures Friday opened my eyes to how secretive extractive companies can be.
While speaking with volunteers about possible site locations I gained a greater understanding of how close the wells and pipelines are to their homes. A volunteer named Martha was telling me that when she was younger she thought wells were a great opportunity for the local economy but now that she has seen the detrimental impacts of high volume shale gas drilling she is concerned for her grandchildren’s safety. I also spoke with a couple at the workshop who inherited a farm with a pipeline lease on the property. One day without warning, they came home to find a long strip of trees cleared in their forest to make space for a gathering line. Each volunteer had a reason to attend the workshop, some to learn more and others to learn to use scientific tools to address their concerns. At the end of the workshop, I was proud to work for ALLARM and I was proud to be part of the citizen science community. Community members walked away with their kits under-arm, thanking us for our time and excited to begin stream monitoring.