Pave Paradise, Put in an LNG Plant-An essay on environmental intrusion- By Brian Keeler
Updated: Dec 20, 2018
There’s an atrocious incursion into a beautiful valley being planned right in my hometown, Wyalusing, PA. The Susquehanna River Valley in Bradford County is of unparalleled beauty and this area just downstream from town, across from Sugar Run has been the inspiration for many of my paintings. So I have a deep appreciation for this locale and a family history in the area that goes back into the 19th century. I am even recalling my high school alma mater song as it evokes the river and valley in its lyrics.
Calling this gas-related infrastructure project an assault on beauty and the environment and a callous short-sighted land grab hardly does justice in describing the depravity this project.
News has come out that the township supervisors in Wyalusing Township have voted unanimously to approve two use permits by Fortress Energy to build a behemoth liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. For my blog readers and FB post followers in the Finger Lakes and elsewhere, they may not be aware of this development just south of the border. They surely can relate to it however, but with the satisfaction that similar incursions by corporate energy giants were stopped in their tracks (for now) by developing LNG related projects along Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen, NY.
The reports in the local press documenting the meeting where the permits were approved were long on quoting those in favor of the project like the chamber of commerce president and others. However short shrift was given to any dissenting voices.
There is however a small group forming to oppose the project. Spearheading the opposition is my friend Dave Buck, who until recently has owned a kayak rental business right across from this property. I would hope that this group could learn from the bravery and conviction of their counterparts in New York State. One can understand Dave’s objection to LNG plant, which will be a humongous source of light, noise and aesthetic pollution directly across the river from Sugar Run.
From what I’ve read, those in favor all remark about the financial benefits. They mention the increased tax revenues and employment opportunities. This LNG project is supposed to be a whopping $800 million investment. One curious remark in favor of the project, is that it would help the local school district re-hire laid off art faculty. Well, I for one see this a Faustian bargain, and any self-respecting artist or musician for that matter would not touch such tainted money. I suppose it is similar to any musician of worth refusing to play for the inauguration of the Mr. DT the 45.
The process is already underway however, businesses and residential properties along US Rte 6 have been bought out and the owners have decamped to be out of harms way. This acreage under consideration for gas industry exploitation is a long flat plane on the east side of the river that also has historic significance too. It was the location in the 1760's of the original Moravian Village, called Fredenshutten. The white settlers and Native Americans co-exited peacefully here until 1772. The original Susquehannock Indian village was closer to town but surely this entire area was sacred to them. There is at least one historic home there too, this one owned by an elderly couple, high school class mates of my parents.
The planned LNG behemoth was put into perspective recently by comparing it to the P&G plant just down river in Wyoming County. This industrial project is supposedly similar in scale to the P&G sprawling plant. It seems like the entire Susquehanna Valley is up for grabs by any industry wanting its resources or cheap land. There used to be an idea called industrial parks, with the purpose of at least containing industry. We see that blown out the door as pipelines and wells respect no boundaries.
Describing the fracking and the gas industry in general as a voracious beast also does not begin to characterize the nature of this industry. When I first heard of fracking, I thought it perhaps to be a few planned wells sporadically located here and there. Now the reality of a gas colony invasion has set in we know it to be just the beginning and the opening of a floodgate of related industries and vast networks of pipelines. This proposed LNG plant is only the latest chapter.
One would think it obvious that there are other things more important than economic development. This would seem doubly true in Wyalusing and rural Pennsylvania and New York in general, where the beauty of the land is one of the main attributes that residents mention when asked about their homeland. Well, I would assert that there is a triple bottom line as an argument against the money-only reasoning. The triple bottom line, as I recall it, is social, environmental and economic. In other words, one priority should not eclipse the others, but the overall macro perspective and sensibility is honored. One can only wonder what kind of requirements the township supervisors required before granting these permits.
Well you can see that I am upset about what I consider a disastrous turn of events. My objections sited here, are in a certain respect, aesthetic, as I consider this project a god-awful affront to natural beauty of the area. I would venture to say there is a spiritual element here too in regards to Native American and even Christian traditions, as they hold we should be acting as stewards and guardians of the earth and sacred lands. However environmental and safety issues are not far behind. The reports in the local media are quick to mention Fortress Energies safety record in their other plant in Miami, Florida etc. Well, we trusted BP Energy and Exxon too, only to see what happened in the Gulf of Mexico and the on the Valdez off the coast of Alaska. The same could happen here too.
The painting below- "Equinox Evening" a plein air oil was done just in September of last year at the shoreline where this LNG might be located. I like to think of this painting as an ode to the fragility of life and how our natural resources require protection.