Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Comprehension and issues of drilling

on June 13, 2014 10:40 AM

Ms. Judy Wanchisn (“To know is to understand,” Friday) has taken issue with my letter, but lacks comprehension that it was not about wells. It was directed at those who would agitate for government coercion to deprive another of his/her legal entitlements for personal benefit. That applies to welfare, taxation, constitutional rights and health care, as well as environmental issues.

As to the issue of clean water, Ms. Wanchisn has recommended that I become educated, and has touted her experience as a citizen, grandmother and teacher. I, too, am a citizen, great-grandfather and have also taught. Most specifically, I have taught wastewater treatment, reuse and disposal at universities and various EPA seminars. Since 1979 I have supervised design, construction and operation of water and wastewater treatment and discharge facilities in six states, hold patents in the field and have provided expert testimony before numerous review boards and in the courts. I know about injection wells, likely a great deal more than she does.

I have also read the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and there is nothing in either that guarantees her the right to clean water, as laudable as that might be if it were. I fully appreciate her desire, sympathize and have spent a career in achieving clean water, but cannot condone her illegitimate demands.

Anecdotal horror stories were invoked to create sympathy and doubt among the less-educated. Political leaders are for the most part both technically under-educated and notoriously risk-adverse, and activists prey upon these weaknesses to achieve benefits to which they are not entitled.

That is precisely what is going on here. Both she and local governments should defer to the regulatory process and its hired experts to protect and advise them. As she claims no expert credentials in the field and offers no site-specific hydrogeologic knowledge, her protests constitute self-centered whining.

There is virtually no risk of properly done deep well injectate reaching drinking or surface water aquifers, and only a modicum of risk from inadvertent spills, which are usually temporary, limited and severely punished.

While the Constitution does not guarantee the right to clean water, it does prevent another from taking it from you if you have it. The courts are both sympathetic and sensitive to this nuance. A supplicant has no standing until injured, so specters of possible damages such as those raised by Ms. Wanchisn are both speculative and inadmissible in venues such as those she has employed.

McClellan Blair, Ph.D.

Indiana

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