Frighteningly, I arrived here in Towanda, PA without a plan. The objective was to capture hydrofracking’s impact on the community, but I didn’t have any interviews lined up or shooting locations mapped out. I wanted to keep my schedule open and, frankly, I couldn’t find any tour maps pointing out drill pads or water impoundments. Thanks to a healthy dose of Pennsylvania hospitality and a stunningly warm day, I got what I needed and more.
The day really started with Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko. Doug gives a full-throated endorsement of what’s happened here, which is nothing short of a boom. Every hour is rush hour. Pickup trucks, industrial trucks and semis clog the town’s streets. Doug sees progress. He has a point. If you want a job, you’ve got one. Buildings are going up and roads are going down. As Doug drove me around town in a white Chevy pickup, I couldn’t spot an empty storefront. Outside of town, Doug gladly gave me a tour of the gas industry. I saw and shot pretty much everything. Not even knowing I was stopping by, Doug cut out three hours of his day for me.
By dusk, I was still looking for someone who wasn’t gung-ho on the last three years. I stopped off at Junack’s, Naturally! – a vitamin shop – to inquire. They directed me to Trudy Gerlach. Trudy has lived just outside of Towanda almost her entire life. In fact, I interviewed her in the home her parents bought in 1941. She bemoans the traffic and noise, says crime is up and told me her neighbors' wells have been contaminated with methane. At one point, she nearly started crying. After the interview she offered me dinner.
Here you have two people who come at this with completely different perspectives, yet both take such pride in their home and so willingly will guide a stranger through it. Interestingly, both ended their interviews with basically the same line: If you want to see the truth, come visit Bradford County!
This morning I leave Bradford County. I have an interview with a geologist at Cornell, a landowner in Woodhull and a winery owner on Keuka Lake.
So you know, we’re thinking of producing 3 pieces that will air Monday Feb. 13. We’ll keep you posted!
Adam Chodak, Anchor/Reporter