Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial aimed to kowtow to fringe idealists who wish to revert back to a pre-industrial Pennsylvania, than to provide information founded on reality. The editorial board appears to misunderstand the paper’s own reporting by mischaracterizing an inadvertent return as a “gas spill.”
Inadvertent returns occur when fluid used to cool a drill during a horizontal directional drill (HDD), escapes the drill hole and travels through natural cracks and fissures in the ground. A trained geologist, Bill Godsey wrote in the Patriot News, “it’s not unusual for this non-toxic drilling fluid to rise to the surface in naturally occurring cracks in the soil, or to move horizontally underground. Such ‘inadvertent returns’ are often predicted in environmental reviews before construction permits are approved…and easily cleaned up afterwards…”
What does the drilling fluid contain? Bentonite, a non-toxic substance that is also used in lipstick. Yes, people put this product on their lips. It doesn’t take a scientific-trained professional to see a clear difference between a “gas spill” and an inadvertent return.
Pennsylvania has a long history of energy and manufacturing production. Industries have supported the country’s modernization over a century and a half, but some would prefer these industries cease to exist. They would prefer to forego the jobs and economic benefits, not to mention the increased access to homegrown energy products. Energy use is not dissipating, but some would prefer we rely on adversarial countries abroad, rather than our own country’s abundant supply of natural resources here at home.