|photo by Frank Finan|
Farming in the drill zone is tough. Just ask Carol French and Carolyn Knapp, two Bradford County dairy farmers who recently traveled to Brooktondale to talk about the rural impacts of industrialized drilling. One farmer had to sell his cattle after drillers sited a well behind the barn, cutting off access to his fields. His return on the drilling investment: $400/month in royalties and contaminated water.
Then there's the matter of forking over a few more pennies per hundredweight so the milk haulers won't bail out to drive trucks for the gas companies. And it's not just PA - NY dairy farmers are being hit by the added expense as well. And sawdust .... French says that with drillers buying up all the local supplies of sawdust (they mix it with drill cuttings before sending them to a landfill) she's resorted to grinding feed for bedding.
"Industrialized drilling affects everything," Knapp said.The shale shale play is huge and, gas companies point out, they expect to be producing gas for the next 30 to 50 years. Given the impacts on agriculture, both women wonder how long they can keep on farming.
"Not a day goes by that we don't discuss when we'll have to leave the farm," Knapp said.