Gas companies are mounting a statewide charm offensive touting the benefits of Marcellus Shale drilling through ads on TV, radio, and billboards. But the industry should also walk its media-blitz talk.
The latest haul of citations issued to more than 1,000 trucks moving wastewater from gas-drilling operations demonstrates that there might be a good deal more hot air mixed in with the natural gas.
State police and state Department of Environmental Protection inspectors examined more than 1,400 trucks over two days in October. They issued 1,066 citations for violations ranging from nonworking lights to unsecured loads - a better than 75 percent noncompliance rate.
So what's "Operation FracNET" say about natural-gas operations' impact on road safety in and around drilling communities and across the state? Well, it's not going to make good material for more happy-talk commercials. Any trucker who operates an unsafe vehicle makes the roads more risky for every motorist.
The greatest safety concerns from Marcellus Shale drilling stem from the impact on drinking water by the use of a water-and-chemical mix to break through to gas formations thousands of feet underground.
No doubt, there are many residents of drilling communities who feel, as one drilling-rights lessor says in an industry commercial, "Natural gas has been ... a godsend to this area." For that to be a view that's shared widely, the process of hauling wastewater - as well as every aspect of drilling - must meet the highest safety standards.