Updated 01/22/2010 06:15 AM
Gas industry has positive impacts on Pennsylvania community
The benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale is still up for debate in New York, but in Pennsylvania, where production is underway, communities are starting to feel the impacts. Our Kaitlyn Lionti tells us about how the drilling industry helped save a local school and is giving one community a bright outlook for the future.
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BLOSSBURG, Pa. -- SOS signs can be found around Blossburg, Pennsylvania. Efforts of a community looking to keep its aging high school open by spreading awareness of the void it would leave by closing.
"The school is the cornerstone of any community, so really paying attention to the economic impacts it was going to have," said Jill Nickerson, Co-Chair of the Save our Schools Coalition.
This week, the school board decided to keep North Penn High School open. One of the concerns in doing so was decreasing enrollment, but that changed thanks to the efforts of the SOS Coalition and the potential impacts of the gas drilling industry.
"We pursued and tried to get some companies to give us at least some estimations and in the last month, we've seen 16 students register that have directly influence with the gas companies and most of them have settled in the Mansfield area, so that helped," said Joseph Kalata, Superintendent of the Southern Tioga School District.
The gas drilling industry hasn't just helped the fate of the school, it's also had a positive economic impact on the community and places like the Brick Tavern.
"The waitresses have been saying, you know, a lot more different people have been coming in from different states and stuff. They have accents and everything," said Jenna Lamphire, cook at the Brick Tavern.
In addition to more traffic through Blossburg, there's also been a lot of land-leasing by gas companies and the potential for a facility that will purify the water used in the drilling process.
"Which will be a continuous recycle project and whatever discharge there is, will be taken care of at the landfill," said James Bogaczyk, Council President of the Blossburg Borough.
And as long as the DEP continues to monitor the safety of drilling operations, the community says they're ready to reap the benefits.
"Especially with the Marcellus Shale play, we're really focusing now on showing how Blossburg is a great place to live," said Nickerson.
"I'm sure there's always somebody somewhere that's going to find something wrong, but again, the economy, it's going to be just great for this area," said Bogaczyk.
New York's Department of Environmental Conservation is working to come up with a final set of safety regulations should hydrofracking be allowed in New York.
Right now, it is not allowed and there is much controversy over just how safe the process is and what it will do to the land.