On a recent holiday in the USA we landed at Philly and as we wisely booked a motel by the airport we went into Philly ant saw the famous Liberty Bell. as I had got a grant from the Retired Clergy we moved up to Williamsport in the north, where we met a CEO of a gas exploration company, whose name I got from one of my many American friends. As the chap in the car hire place in Philly was so impressed that I told him he came fro Keral in India, he upgraded us to a Prius, which I gladly took. We had to have a fast run up to Williamsport and then drive another 20 miles to Trout Run, which a few years ago only attracted hunters and anglers. Now it thrives as there is fracking all around. It was in Bradford County, where there have been many fracking “troubles”. Or not.
We met in a cafe , or rather the cafe and around us we could see the environmental degradation caused by fracking. The picture shows it all; at the top of the hill was a pad with about 10 wells, which I couldn’t photograph, but from it there needed to be a pipe for the gas grid and that resulted in cutting a swathe through the woods, seen more clearly below.
Looking the other way was another gasline coming down the hill. This was the worst environmental degredation we saw.
From Trout Run we went up through the woods
on a good unmetalled road road –
which was reminiscent of forestry roads in Britain. Every so often we came to a clearing with a pad, which I was asked not to photograph. I couldn’t understand why, but he must have had a reason. All it would have shown was unobtrusive. However, here is a photo i found on google which shows the typical pads we saw. There was no noise, except the wind in the trees and no smell or fumes.
Returning to Trout Run we had a long talk in the cafe and the two “gas men” told us of all the benefits; more employment etc. I spoke to the staff of the cafe who appreciated the upturn in their economy, but said some did not like it.
And so we were sent on our way on a long and devious route back to Williamsport. We were told to keep our eyes glued as we were liable to miss any pads. And so we drove through some very pleasant wooded countryside and saw more turbines than anything gassy.
We saw evidence of work on gas.
and then off to the right we saw a rig.and drove a few hundred yards on a dirt road to the entrance. I met the Security Guard, a size 8 girl of about 20!! She said I couldn’t go in but was friendly. There was a hum of diesel motors, much quieter than the M6 a mile from my house. they were not drilling or fracking at the time.
This was the only big lorry we saw in 40 miles. As for the roads, the surface was excellent and free of potholes (unlike Lancashire).
To the side of the rig was a settling pond to collect flowback water before treatment.
These ponds are controversial but are not allowed in Britain, but many fractivists haven’t learnt that yet
Yet more unprotected piping.
Here are some living cows in the midst of fracking! In PA farming has increased rather than decreased since fracking started. But to say that is to spoil a classic scare story.
Unlike Britain there is not a good gas grid and thus they are having to build one. Ours was built in the 60s in preparation for North Sea Gas.
a matter of yards from the work on the gas grid is this recently completed pad with a dozen or so wells. it is empty now, but needed the “football pitch” for all the machinery when fracking. Note the posh house yards beyond the embankment. (It was crying out for landscaping.)
We drove on to the house, which shows the proximity to the pad. When drilling the rig would have been 50 yards from their front door. As Iwas taking photos the home owner came out so we had a chat. He was very happy about everything, but then I suspect the pad was on his land. $$$$$$$$$
It was getting on and so we went to our motel in Williamsport. Until we left the next morning I asked every one who served us – in motel, at dinner, in the supermarket – what they thought about fracking. the consensus was that it had improved the area, gave more employment in a depressed area. One or two said some didn’t like it. From my highly unscientific and limited survey of locals, I concluded that most approved of fracking. From what I saw it was done with some sensitivity to the environment and did not result in industrialisation or devestation.
After that we began our holiday proper going first to an area with some of the worst environmental pollution from farming in Pennsylvania – the Amish counties around Lancaster.
to my horror the Amish are not allowed bicycles but had to use scooters!! They also had to use mobiles instead of landlines.
Imagine how big a field of fodder is needed to power this vehicle, which costs about $10,000, the same as an auto.
And so we went for lunch in a well-known Amish town
Before heading to Gettysburg
This was only a brief visit to a fracking area in the USA and it demonstrated to us, that the alleged horrors of fracking are simply made-up – or else examples of very bad practice.
If what we saw in Bradford County is promised for Lancashire then FINE. Britain is fortunate having learn from american errors and folly and have now a good regulatory framework which should convince any normal person.