Wednesday, March 27, 2013

About the header image: March 27, 2013

Energy: It's what makes things go. Pennsylvania has long played a role in the energy industry. The first modern oil wells were drilled in Titusville in Northwestern Pennsylvania, while high-quality anthracite coal was mined in Northeastern PA, especially in the Wyoming Valley. The region still bears the scars of those days in the form of decaying, abandoned structures, poisoned waterways, and the occasional mine subsidence.

Now a new energy rush has come to Pennsylvania as numerous concerns vie to extract the natural gas trapped within layers of the Marcellus Shale. Some residents (and non-resident landowners) have eagerly signed leases with gas extraction companies, sometimes to their regret - and with lasting impacts to the land and the legacy that these people leave behind.

Some might look at a Pennsylvania field and wonder how much natural gas could be extracted from it. But this image by Don Williams, the Susqehanna River Sentinel, shows two other forms of energy in ample supply in Pennsylvania: solar and wind. Some might think that Pennsylvania is lacking in solar resources compared to some of the sunnier states, but the thickly forested landscape bears witness to the wrongness of that thought. (And our cooler temperatures allow solar panels to operate at higher efficiency than in, say, Arizona.) As for wind, the numerous wind farms that have popped up throughout the area show that wind is a viable energy source on a commercial scale. But neither sunshine nor wind can be commodified in the way that oil, coal, or natural gas can. As long as there is a profit to be made and a market eager to buy, the fossil fuel industry will continue to tear resources out of the land. And as long as there is a Pennsylvania to fight for, people like Don Williams will continue to fight to protect the environment that so many of us take for granted.

See this post for the original image.

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