Letters to the editor
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In a time when families are struggling and the state budget is in crisis, it is easy to see the answer to our financial troubles in Marcellus Shale drilling. But what about the costs? The June 13 story "Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling Put Under Microscope" highlights the dangers that come hand in hand with the fracking process.
As a resident of Lincoln Place, a city neighborhood where mineral rights and land leases have already been signed, I have many fears about what a gas well will mean for the health of my family, for my property value and for the safety of my community.
Lobbyists for the natural gas industry claim that the drilling process can be done safely, but the explosions and fires we saw recently demonstrate there are disastrous consequences when something goes wrong.
In addition to news headlines about the recent blowouts, story after story is being told at community meetings about families near drill sites getting sick and having to move out of their homes, about drinking water contaminated by methane gas and about highly toxic wastewater leaching into the ground.
In Lincoln Place, one proposed drill site is only blocks away from an elementary school with nearly 400 children who could be exposed to these gases. I second the call for a moratorium. If Marcellus Shale is truly the economic boom we've all been waiting for, then let's get it right the first time around.
I too am worried about groundwater pollution from Marcellus fracking.
I have heard the breathless predictions of Marcellus promoters, saying that Pennsylvania is sitting on huge reserves of natural gas and we'll make billions of dollars, create oodles of jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, get rich and enjoy a rosy future of "clean natural gas."
I'm wary of the claims of investors and drillers who stand to benefit from this development, just as I'm wary of the claims of used car salesmen. What Marcellus boosters do not mention is that most of the jobs are short-lived, for drillers and truck drivers who have historically been Texans, not locals, that drilling brings in hundreds of trucks, noise around the clock from drilling equipment and potential long-term air and water pollution.
I recently saw the movie "Gasland" that showed examples. Chemicals are added to water that is pumped underground during fracking, and a third or more of frack water comes back up. Not only does the fracking release methane, but also benzene (a carcinogen), salts and heavy metals. Some people's well water has become contaminated.
The natural gas industry needs to be very strictly regulated to prevent long-term pollution of our groundwater. We can't trust the gas industry to police itself. Considering that this natural gas has been safely underground for millions of years and the price of energy is destined to increase in coming years, it makes sense to take our time in extracting this resource, waiting until we can do it safely.
More Jack Kellys
In response to criticism of Jack Kelly's columns:
Mr. Kelly is like fresh air to journalism, unlike our mainstream media, which are out of touch with America. They constantly bashed President George W. Bush (who at times needed it) but are either afraid of or in the pocket of President Barack Obama's regime. They sound like they are campaigning for him instead of investigating the Marxist takeover of our republic.
I enjoy Jack Kelly. He is the only reporter with the guts to question this enlarged government control over Arizona's and other states' rights, the Internet and free speech. I am a former Democrat, turned Independent. My party has betrayed me with corruption, bribery, arm-bending and socialistic rulings. Our debt is unsustainable, our unemployment is a travesty, spending outrageous and the health care bill is unconstitutional.
I admire Jack Kelly and wish more journalists were like him, not preaching his views, but investigating facts. Journalists, where is your honesty and integrity? You owe it to the American people to inform them of corruption and pro-Muslim and anti-American rhetoric coming from this White House.
We are Americans; we bow to no one. This is no longer about being Democratic or Republican; this is about honor, patriotism or acts of treason. We need more Jack Kellys to stand up for the truth.
I'm not overpaid
This is in response to Jack Kelly's June 13 column headed "Public Workers Are Overpaid: They Are Straining State Budgets and Ought to Accept Cuts." As an employee of Allegheny County and involved in services to the aged, consequently a "public worker," I wish to take exception to this characterization.
I and the others engaged in this work begin employment currently making about $25,000 annually and top at about $50,000 after 20 years. Median annual compensation is in the range of the low $30,000s, given the high rate of turnover. This is far from the compensation averages cited.
Despite this, the college educated (some with graduate degrees) "public workers" in this local endeavor alone regularly help the commonwealth save many tens of millions of dollars yearly by reducing the need for institutionalization of those we serve. Add to this additional millions of dollars saved in measures taken to reduce re-hospitalizations and the return on investment is staggering.
I hope your more enlightened readers will recognize the limited perspective from which your columnist writes in his assault on the value of "public workers."
Cozy with Kosovo
Frida Ghitis is correct when she observes that the majority Muslim Albanians of Kosovo love America and past American presidents like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush ("Where Muslims Love America," June 6 Forum). What she does not make clear is the main reason for this: namely, the United States supported Kosovo Albanian aspirations for secession from an internationally recognized state of Serbia.
It has been the Balkan misfortune to be the cauldron of international rivalries for centuries. For reasons of power, prestige and influence Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman Turks, Russians and now Americans have interfered in local rivalries. In turn, the response of locals has always been to look for powerful outside patrons to support them in their often-violent quarrels.
These alliances have shifted through the years. During the World Wars and the Cold War, the Serbs were staunch allies of the United States while the Albanians sided with both Imperial and Nazi Germany and then, Stalin and Mao.
The U.S./NATO war against Serbia in favor of the Kosovo Albanians was never authorized by the United Nations or by the U.S. Congress. Less than a third of the world has recognized Kosovo's secession and the case is pending before the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands.
Why wouldn't the Kosovo Albanians be grateful for this support? Having such a powerful ally support you in the face of international law is comforting. Serbs are left wondering, "Why us?" And Americans should be wary of the fickle nature of Balkan alliances.
Obama must lead
Many times we talk about and try to define leadership. We usually end up realizing that words don't do it. Leadership is something you know when you see it. You see it in a clear objective and a plan to achieve it.
President Obama was elected by force of rhetoric and hope for change. The question now is: Are we seeing any leadership on the problems we all know are in need of attention? Many people, including myself, would say "no." It's about time we see some leadership.
Upper St. Clair
Be super, Pittsburgh: Honor Gene Kelly
There's a town in Illinois called Metropolis and it recently unveiled a statue of Superman's girlfriend, Lois Lane. Her former home was in the brush of a cartoon artist. And in this day and age, explain why Pittsburgh can't find any space for a statue of one of its most famous sons, the great Gene Kelly.
I am a retired New Yorker and will be 81 on Father's Day. I have some blue and down days, like many of us octogenarians. My therapy? My DVD recorder. I just push the play button and go back to 1942 to be enchanted while watching two legends, Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, singing and dancing to "The bells are ringing, for me and my gal."
I truly doubt that looking at a statue of Clark Kent's friend could ever do much for my spirits, but, then again, I'm not from Krypton.
JOHN K. COYLE
First Published June 20, 2010 12:00 am