Friday, December 16, 2011

Public Service or Public Sacrifice?

Photo by Amy Roe
I’ve often heard that being elected to public office is about sacrifice.  Naively, I thought that meant personal sacrifice on the part of the elected official to ensure they did the very best job they could for their constituents.  Unfortunately, it seems that the “sacrifice” that many public officials are willing to make these days is sacrificing the public, the environment and the health of future generations in order to serve their own personal and political agendas, including those of their political friends and donors.

I didn’t think the sacrifices of public service would include the 19 families in Dimock, PA who have lost their clean and healthy drinking water because it was contaminated by Marcellus shale gas drilling. The State is choosing not to ensure the long-term replacement or restoration of the water by the drillers – instead the State has allowed the drilling company responsible to stop their delivery and pursuit of a suitable and long-term water supply for these families.  I also didn’t think the sacrifices of public service would include the growing volume of families, environments and kids-yet-to-be-born, to the shale gas drillers who are wreaking such havoc wherever they seem to go.

I didn’t think the sacrifices of public service would include the oystermen, the fishermen, the bed and breakfasts, the entire population of Delaware River Atlantic Sturgeon, and much more that will be harmed by deepening the Delaware River – a project that Pennsylvania is going to use taxpayer dollars to pay for. The Government Accountability Office has three times challenged the Army Corps’ assertions of the economic benefits of the project and so the federal government isn’t putting forth the money – nor are the businesses who claim they support the project. 

I didn’t think the sacrifices of public service included the families who live downstream from major development and gas drilling projects and will suffer the resulting dangers and pollution because Pennsylvania legislators would rather make life easier for the developers and drillers rather than require basic safety measures like ensuring protection of the floodplains, buffers and woodlands that prevent growing and future flooding problems, water pollution and air pollution.

And now we have the Pennsylvania Legislators willing to strip communities of their legal authorities to protect themselves from damaging community and environmental projects like gas drilling, to learn more and get active on this one see:

I think it is about time that public service be about serving the public, protecting the health, safety, future and needs of the public.