Part of what makes the controversy over whether the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) should use its considerable leverage to protect the Clarence Moore lands in Loyalsock State Forest from becoming a frack-gas factory wasteland for Anadarko Petroleum is that this should not be a subject of controversy at all. It’s hard to imagine, in fact, a more obvious and resounding “No.”
As in: “No way.”
“Are you kidding?”
“No, really, you’re kidding, right?”
Given the “exceptional value” of these 25,621 acres, and given that DCNR clearly has the power to restrict access to at least 18,870 acres of that land, the only meaningful questions are
1. Why is DCNR even considering granting a permit to any natural gas corporation, but particularly to Anadarko, whose record of environmental violation is horrendous?
2. Why, given our exclusion from the opportunity to speak to Anadarko’s “development” plans, aren’t the citizens of the Commonwealth marching on the June 3rd public hearing from 4-6PM, at Lycoming College (Wendell Hall) with pitchforks and burning torches?
Only in some alternative reality—where the 25 proposed hydraulically fractured gas wells, compressors, dehydrators, pipelines, fresh water tankers, waste-water haulers (say, Minuteman), sand cans, chemical crew cab trucks, new roads, widened existing roads, and all of the attendant emissions, inevitable spills, forest fragmentation, and the consequent decimation of flora and fauna, some species already endangered and/or rare—is Anadarko’s plan to “develop” the Clarence Moore lands consistent with anything we know about ecology.
Only in some bizarre world where we are willing to permit our children and our grandchildren to live out their lives in a decomposing putrid sewer—on a corpse planet—does the schizophrenic reality of industrialized extraction make sense.
In other words, there is no such “reality” where these lives are livable, where they can make “sense.” A very wise man recently reminded me that the human-all-to-human capacity to deploy our intelligence to adapt was both our strongest and weakest characteristic. At once, it provides us with the tools for overcoming adversity and suffering—and it fits us for life under circumstances ever more diminished with respect to predators like disease, war, and our own penchant for depravity. “Tipping point” is perhaps polite society’s way of referring to that threshold beyond which no capacity for adaptation will suffice.
A closer approximation might be “that critical mass of unremitting shit within which only the fool who values life above beauty and joy and company is willing to subsist.”
But “subsistence” is not “living.”
And that brings me directly back to the only public hearing Secretary Richard J. Allen of the DCNR will have thought himself responsible to hold concerning the fracking of the Loyalsock. That we are so apparently willing to ignore the science, to dismiss the evidence of an industry wholly negligent of anything other than its profit margins, to allow “invite only” “stakeholders” meetings, and to brook insufferable Webinars to pass for public participation concerning decisions about public lands is testimony only to the power of sheer resignation and cynicism to lure us into this alternative, the world of Industrialized Extraction Schizophrenia (IES).
Cynicism and resignation are luxuries we cannot afford.
Anadarko is EXCO is Exxon/XTO is Cabot is Range Resources is Norse is Dominion is Chesapeake is Consol is Dutch Royal Shell is Schlumberger is Kinder Morgan is Aqua America is CalFrac is Atlas is Chevron is Encana is Inergy/CNYOG is Minuteman—and one it goes. They are all the same with respect to their single-minded and sociopathic reason for being: profit. As much. As Often. As relentlessly pursued.
How many spills, explosions, cancers, asthmas, wars, catastrophic weather disasters, truck accidents, and community deaths will it take for us to get it that the world of the industrializing extraction schizophrenic makes Zombie Apocalypse look like Disneyland?
However it might be cast in the deceptive rhetoric of “development”—a term that masks all manner of gut-wrenching environmental destruction—the waste to which Anadarko will lay the Loyalsock is irrecoverable. Oh, there will be some neat cosmetics—sort of like stands of trees guarding landfills or flowering hedges around a factory farm—but the industrializing extraction schizophrenic depends on us to conceive “nature” as a kind of landscape painting—fixed, awaiting our short visit, pretty—but not the world upon which we depend for the necessary conditions of life.
Anadarko counts on us to have no greater concept of the value of species diversity, contiguous forest, uncontaminated waterways, pristine wetland, and change than we do of democracy.
Such, indeed, is the fundamentally schizophrenic aspect of all forms of industrialized extraction anywhere: We are asked to divorce our very understanding of the fact that clean water and breathable air are necessary conditions of life from our concept of…life.
But to speak of “life” without consideration for the conditions of life is crazy talk.
And unless we make a clear demonstration to the contrary, Anadarko will be right. In the world of the industrialized extraction schizophrenic black is white, up is down, and the sky is pink.
But in the world upon which my life depends, black is black, up is up—and the sky is as blue as is the intimate gaze of my own eyes upon the splendiferous natural world I am yet fortunate enough to behold.
This post is not an analysis. We are full of analyses. It is not a polite request to Anadarko to please not despoil “my” creeks and hiking trails and vistas. We have seen plenty of what negotiation and compromise and playing nice can accomplish—such are naught but invitations to rape when the schizophrenic assailant cares no more for the rules of games than the ruthless boy king of Game of Thrones.
This is an exclamation of what I regard as a plain truth:
If we care nothing for this precious moment of a natural world vanishing before our eyes, we care for nothing at all.
That is the meaning of Rock Run, The Clarence Moore Lands, and Devil’s Elbow.
That is the meaning of every inch of land, every drop of water, every gaze skywards stolen, extorted, and wrenched from us by the Industrializing Extraction Schizophrenic.
We cannot merely say “no” to Anadarko.
We must mean it.
We must feel it.
We must live it.
Wendy Lynne Lee, Shale Justice
*All photographs are from Loyalsock State Forest, primarily Rock Run and the Old Logger’s Path.