The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


September 24, 2009

READERS' FORUM 9-27 | Audubon group opposes expanded drilling

In April 2008, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources opened 75,000 acres of our state forests to leasing by gas companies drilling the Marcellus shale.

Some politicians now are proposing to force DCNR to lease an additional 390,000 acres of state forest land to the gas industry.

Marcellus gas wells have 10 times the impact of any gas wells you have seen: Each requires the clearing of dozens of acres of forest and each one requires more than a million gallons of water to fracture the 5,000-foot deep wells.

DCNR has objected strongly to this proposal, stating that “rampant, unplanned leasing of forest lands would severely jeopardize DCNR’s ability to retain its third-party certification (of timber) and to maintain ecologically sound forest management.”

It is important to note that those politicians want to lease additional vast parts of our forest in lieu of having drillers pull their own weight via paying a fee on the gas they extract from the forests.

We still suffer from the damage from coal extraction – and taxpayers continue to pay for the clean-up of what was done 100 years ago. Some people haven’t learned from the mistakes of the past; now they want to help the gas industry to ravage our public lands without setting money aside for fixing their damage.

Juniata Valley Audubon, a conservation organization with 450 members, is strongly opposed to opening additional state forests to Marcellus shale gas drilling.

Forest conservation – not energy extraction – should be the overarching purpose of our state forests.

Dr. Stan Kotala

Conservation chairman

Juniata Valley Audubon, Hollidaysburg

Health insurers have some explaining to do

Since many people do not like change, opposition to President Obama’s plan to reform health care is to be expected. However, behavior that includes hate, anger and hubris being displayed by some opponents is baffling.

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Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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