By Nathan Pipenberg
Then my eyes snap open and I adjust to reality again — the reality that gas drilling is destroying our state forests.
This past weekend, a friend and I took a trip up to Waterville, a small town in Lycoming County, to see this truth first hand.
I had heard from other hikers that the miles of trails near Waterville are some of the most depressing around because they’re located right on top of the Marcellus Shale formation and are a hot spot for gas drilling.
They were right.
We hiked about three miles, and afterward drove another 10 miles on public forest roads in the area. Over this short distance, we saw three well sites on the mountaintops and two pipelines cutting directly back into the valley.
From the moment we stepped out of our car at the base of the mountain, we could already hear what we would see at the top — engines revving, pipes being laid and beeps emanating from machines being put into reverse. It sounded like a highway was being constructed on the mountain top.
During our hike, we walked directly past a gas pad we found cutting across a public access hiking trail. I took photos from the trail, proving what the gas companies don’t want us to know. The fact is, each well pad resembles a small town. The mountain tops are clear cut, paved with tons of gravel and inhabited by dozens of trucks, bulldozers and storage containers the size of freight cars.
I snapped a shot of the well permit. The pad was built by Anadarko, the same energy giant which recently doled out $4 billion to pay for its involvement in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, according to a company press release.
We left when a security guard approached us and told us to put away the camera.