Welcome to BOBscaping!

Sunny Bicentennial

When my first Donnan ancestor emigrated to America, he chose Hickory in Washington County, Pennsylvania as his new family home. It’s been said the reason so many Scotch-Irish immigrants settled in southwestern Pennsylvania is that it reminded them of their Scottish homeland.

Rev. Alexander Donnan served as the second pastor at Mt Pleasant United Presbyterian church, which was then situated near the present day Mt. Pleasant Community Center on Wabash Avenue.

   Reverend Alexander Donnan and family headstones near the site of his former church in Hickory, Pa.

Reverend Alexander Donnan and family headstones near the site of his former church in Hickory, Pa.

While things were much different in Hickory when Alexander arrived 201 years ago (1817), they were also very much the same. In 1796, George Washington praised the Mt. Pleasant area with this description in his journal:

“The soil is of excellent quality, rich, level,
well timbered, and well watered.”

Washington County was once the top wool producer in the United States, but few ever saw it becoming one of our nation’s top natural gas producers, even though the Alexander McGugin well should have given everyone a clue.

  DERRICKS IN THE CITY OF WASHINGTON, PA   "Oil and gas discoveries fueled a boom in Washington County, Pennsylvania from the 1880s to the early 1900s. For a time, the McGugin Gas Well was the largest flow of natural gas in the world and provided Pittsburgh with most of its natural gas needs.".   Source

DERRICKS IN THE CITY OF WASHINGTON, PA
"Oil and gas discoveries fueled a boom in Washington County, Pennsylvania from the 1880s to the early 1900s. For a time, the McGugin Gas Well was the largest flow of natural gas in the world and provided Pittsburgh with most of its natural gas needs.". Source

Crumrine’s History of Mt Pleasant describes it this way:

“On this farm an experimental oil well has been sunk.  A depth of 1800 ft. was reached when there commenced a very strong flow of gas which accidentally took fire, and has not yet (July 1, 1882) been extinguished.  The light can be seen at night for a distance of 20 miles.”

Alexander McGugin’s grandfather David was the first settler to Mt. Pleasant Township, and as they say, the rest is history. 128 years later, gas well flares once again lit the night skies of Mt. Pleasant Township for miles around.

   Candlestick flare marking early production from a Marcellus Shale gas well near Hickory, Pa.

Candlestick flare marking early production from a Marcellus Shale gas well near Hickory, Pa.

The historical plaque for the McGugin well, once situated along Route 18, disappeared shortly before Marcellus Shale gas drilling boom began.

The Hickory area became part of history once again. The first two Marcellus Shale gas wells, signaling the latest natural gas boom, were drilled within a couple miles of Hickory.

The first Marcellus Shale gas well was the Renz Well on Sabo Road near Westland, and the second was Gulla #9 off McCarrell Road just south of Hickory.

   Large rig drilling the lateral portion of a Marcellus shale gas well in Washington County, Pa in 2012. Shale well laterals were initially less than one-mile long, but have since reached 3-miles in length on some wells. Those lateral lengths are in addition to the vertical portion of the well which extends over one-mile deep just to reach the shale layer.

Large rig drilling the lateral portion of a Marcellus shale gas well in Washington County, Pa in 2012. Shale well laterals were initially less than one-mile long, but have since reached 3-miles in length on some wells. Those lateral lengths are in addition to the vertical portion of the well which extends over one-mile deep just to reach the shale layer.

Some recent forecasts indicate that 50,000 new wells will be drilled over the next 25 years in Pennsylvania, creating justifiable concerns about declining air and water quality in the region moving forward.

  LEGACY POLLUTION IN SOUTHWEST PENNSYLVANIA    Treatment facility for acid mine drainage from past coal mining activity.

LEGACY POLLUTION IN SOUTHWEST PENNSYLVANIA
Treatment facility for acid mine drainage from past coal mining activity.

Our region is still trying to recover from all the legacy pollution created by extensive coal mining in the past century and this latest boom is likely to create additional environmental issues on an even larger scale.

   Five years after the shale drilling boom got underway, football field size wastewater impoundments dotted Washington County, Pa, similar to this one in 2013. It was soon discovered how many of them leaked and how very little everyone knew about the chemicals and pollutants contained in those fluids.

Five years after the shale drilling boom got underway, football field size wastewater impoundments dotted Washington County, Pa, similar to this one in 2013. It was soon discovered how many of them leaked and how very little everyone knew about the chemicals and pollutants contained in those fluids.

One of the greatest problems and concerns is what to do with the millions of gallons of toxic flowback fluids that return from each gas well after being hydraulically fractured or "fracked."

   Slush pits similar to this one were buried in Washington County's premier park; Cross Creek County Park. County commissioners agreed to a surface lease in 2012 allowing seven drilling pads to be excavated inside the park by the year 2020. At least two fracking spills have occurred in the park along with one documented fish kill in Cross Creek Lake.

Slush pits similar to this one were buried in Washington County's premier park; Cross Creek County Park. County commissioners agreed to a surface lease in 2012 allowing seven drilling pads to be excavated inside the park by the year 2020. At least two fracking spills have occurred in the park along with one documented fish kill in Cross Creek Lake.

Other concerns relate to air quality since each well requires over 1,000 diesel truck trips, adding to our region's challenging issues related to PM2.5 air pollution. Meantime, the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees citizens "clean air and pure water."

 Large menagerie of diesel powered equipment 'fracking' a gas well in 2010. In addition to all the PM2.5 air pollution, silica dust, millions of gallons of water that flows back toxic (being laced with frac chemicals--many are proprietary "secret" formulas while others are known endocrine disruptors), heavy metals, brine, and radioactive elements like Ra226 and Ra228. Fracking and wastewater disposal have even created earthquakes in some states.

Large menagerie of diesel powered equipment 'fracking' a gas well in 2010. In addition to all the PM2.5 air pollution, silica dust, millions of gallons of water that flows back toxic (being laced with frac chemicals--many are proprietary "secret" formulas while others are known endocrine disruptors), heavy metals, brine, and radioactive elements like Ra226 and Ra228. Fracking and wastewater disposal have even created earthquakes in some states.

It's easy to feel that our county, and our country, is rapidly moving backwards in this latest rush for fossil fuels, especially considering how much ethane from this shale gas drilling will be "cracked" into plastics which are already polluting the oceans and the globe.

   Hey Grampy, what did you do to leave my kids a better planet?

Hey Grampy, what did you do to leave my kids a better planet?

We've "been there, done that" with fossil fuels and should learn from the past, instead of quickly legislating to erase decades of sensible environmental regulations that give our grandchildren's families a chance of inhabiting a less polluted Earth, instead of one facing further climate catastrophes caused by global warming.

   ..and then consider how the coral reefs are also being decimated.

..and then consider how the coral reefs are also being decimated.

It's time to make some life-saving decisions for future generations and focus on further research and development of renewables like wind and solar power.

The clock is ticking, Miami and Paris are flooding, and our only home needs your help.

After all, there is no "Plan(et) B."

TruthInTen_Page_51.jpg

Next month, we'll be installing solar panels on the roof of our home, as well as a battery backup system, to provide some degree of energy independence and security while reducing our carbon footprint. Please join us!

Bob

Too cool!

BOBscaping grows from deep roots!