Urban drilling’s guinea pigs

Five members of the Lincoln Place Action Group visit Ron Gulla's farm to imagine what Marcellus drilling might look and smell like adjacent to their Pittsburgh neighborhood. From left to right are Barb and Pete Pribila, Gulla, Liz and Mark Schneider, and Lisa Kocsis.


 This fall, landmen for Chesepeake Energy began targeting the residents of Lincoln Place, a Pittsburgh suburb, asking them to sign industry-written leases allowing several deep wells in their area, including one within two blocks of the Mifflin Elementary School.     

Few residents are aware of what Marcellus drilling is or what it will entail. What they do have is lots of explanations and advice from the landmen knocking on their doors and organizing community meetings that promote industry talking points about the benefits of drilling.
In response, some community members are organizing. They’ve created the Lincoln Place Action Group to educate members of their community, raise broader awareness of their situation, and press for changes in zoning and regulations.
“It’s hard to make people care about our sitution when nothing’s happened yet,” said Mark Schneider. “They don’t even care about what’s happened to someone like Gula.”

Even if the companies can drill underneath their suburban properties safely, residents are concerned about the air and noise pollution that accompanies drilling for large volumes of wet gas. Processing plants, pipelines, and compressor stations produce toxic emissions and constant noise.     

In Texas, “Plumes of toxic, smog-causing chemicals from Barnett Shale natural-gas operations are so common that inspectors find them nearly every time they look,” the Dallas Morning News wrote after examining government records. “What’s more, the inspectors have rarely looked.”     

Barb Pribala teared up after smelling the gases escaping from the large green produced water tanks on Gulla’s farm. “What will happen if my children breathe this every day?” she asked.      

The residents are also concerned about losing their woods, their property values, and their quality of life. Many of them moved to Lincoln Place because it is an urban location with significant green space.     

“Minutes from downtown, the neighborhood is similar to suburban neighborhoods found hours away from the city,” trumpets the the Pittsburgh city council website. “It is not unusual to find flocks of wild turkey and deer roaming the greenways of this quiet but growing community.”     

If drilling happens there, the patch of woods behind their houses may be leveled and replaced with an industrial zone.      

Read a news story about gas drilling in the 31st Ward.
Listen to group members on Rustbelt Radio [at 3:50] or on KDKA’s The Chris Moore Show.     

Group members made their own documentary to show their neighbors:     

Read about the effects of urban drilling in Flower Mound, Texas. Texas has lots of urban drilling, including drilling in downtown Forth Worth.     

You can contact the group at their blog http://lpactiongroup.blogspot.com/

2 comments on “Urban drilling’s guinea pigs”

  1. You should make sure the information you read in Texas about Flower Mound is accurate before yelling fire.
    Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Kleinfelder Central, Inc tested the air around Flower Mound and the highest level of Benzene was 1.07 ppb this is well below levers for any concern.
    What you failed to publish is all the successful wells that are producing in Texas and all the funding that has helped secure many jobs for the future and keep the economy stable.

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