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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A statement at the Township supervisors' meeting last night (Tuesday)

(From the public comment section of the march 10 Township supervisors' meeting.)

Tonight, for my comments I'm borrowing a bit from a classic tale, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"...you know the story, of course: Tiny Tim and the Cratchits, Scrooge and the three ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet-to-Come. Borrowing from that classic, I am here tonight as a sort of ghost of Ligonier Yet-to-Come. As for the Ligonier of the Past and Present, they are all around us and speak for themselves: The beautiful mountains, the rural atmosphere, our wooded expanses with fresh air to breathe, the clean water...it's here for all to see and experience. The Ligonier of the Past and the Present owes its existence to the wisdom of previous terms of supervisors and township managers, people who were stewards of the land, people who valued the region and its residents enough to safeguard them and their property. They were not motivated by greed or self-enrichment, those supervisors of the Past.

Now to consider the Ligonier Yet-to-Come.

For a real-world, right-now-even-as-we-speak glimpse of Ligonier Yet-to-Come, we need only go 65miles NW of where we now sit, to a part of Butler County known as The Woodlands. There, 40 families depend on the generosity of volunteers to help them have enough water for drinking, bathing, washing clothes and so on. Why? Because Rex Energy ruined their water wells in 2011 during multiple fracking operations, and the DEP subsequently turned their back on them when the wells went bad and Rex denied responsibility. The water buffaloes that supplied them short-term are gonzo - gone long-time now - and their property values have plummeted. For three years now - with no end in sight - a small band of volunteers buys/collects 500 gallons of water each week to provide 20 gallons per family...which is btw an amount short of the Red Cross minimum for even emergency situations (2 gals/person/day). The Woodlands residents are paying for the sins of a voracious industry that doesn't have to comply with the Clean Water/Clean Air Acts. And they are paying for the ignorance of their supervisors.

So.

Looking into the mists of future time at a Ligonier Yet-to-Come, what do we see? Will it look like what we find in Butler Present, water wells wrecked, property devalued? Will we too have to begin water drives at local churches when Ligonier wells start to go bad? Will we institute an "adopt-a-family-in-need-of-water" option here as well, in the Ligonier Yet-to-Come? (Hah! Idea: Our official township website is the perfect place to coordinate the collection and distribution of water for Ligonier residents whose water wells get ruined by their neighbors' fracking operations! Now that's using existing resources wisely...our pro-fracking township manager can do the coordination, if he's still working here.)

When ordinances were being considered in Butler before 2010, their supervisors did not know nearly what is now known about fracking; they did not have the 500+ peer-reviewed studies on fracking that you (Ligonier supervisors) have each been told about and given access to. In view of what is known about the dangers and downsides of fracking in a valley such as ours, you (Ligonier supervisors) are ethically bound to consider the facts presented and act accordingly, meaning as if our lives depend on it. Similar kinds of damage experienced by the Butler residents - whose supervisors weren't adequately informed - will inevitably flow from a decision to industrialize this valley...where there's fracking, there's damage and destruction: fact x 500+ studies. Because you have been educated by concerned constituents - your homework done for you - you know the dangers...you bear the responsibility.

As the saying goes, gentlemen: if you break it, you pay for it.

--Elizabeth Donohoe

https://sites.google.com/site/waterforwoodlands/

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/businessnews/2012/08/19/Fouled-Waters-Woodlands-residents-search-for-ways-to-survive-without-clean-water/stories/201208190127