Fracking is bad for parks and wildlife

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This is in response to the April 17 Perspectives piece written by John C. Oliver III and James Seif, “Corbett Plan Is Good for Parks.”

The argument that fracking can fund conservation hinges on the twisted notion that we should poison and destroy state forest land to save our state forests and parks.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ highly politicized, late-in-coming shale gas monitoring report (“Drilling in Pa. Forests ‘Carefully Managed’,” April 16) offers proof that from 2008 to 2012, approximately 1,500 acres of state forest were directly “converted” for gas development. In total, we’ve lost 8,400 acres of wild recreation area forever. The industry has cut 30 miles of new roads and expanded 130 miles of existing roads to move its heavy machinery. They’ve also cut 104 miles of new pipeline corridor — fragmenting our forests and providing fertile ground for invasive species — to service 570 well sites on state forest lands. Now they are planning 3,000 more sites on or adjacent to state forests.

Fracking is bad for our parks, our wildlife, for our climate and for our drinking water. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study on April 14 showing that methane emissions from gas wells are up to 1,000 times worse than what the Environmental Protection Agency estimated and 87 percent of streams threatened by fracking are classified as high quality or exceptional quality.

Mr. Oliver and Mr. Seif are “all in” for drilling in state forests despite overwhelming public disapproval of drilling and the already evident threats from that drilling. If the authors were concerned about the future of Pennsylvania’s parks and forests, they would do everything possible to prevent the administration from expanding fracking in these critically important recreation areas. At the very least, they should stop prescribing the poison as the cure.



The letter writer is the campaign representative for Our Wild America, a campaign of the Sierra Club.

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