For a century Pennsylvania state government had, in effect, made a Faustian bargain - it had exchanged its environment for the economic prosperity that was built on exploiting our natural resources.
Former Pennsylvania State Representative Franklin L. Kury
In 1971, Pennsylvanians voted by a 4-1 margin to ratify the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution authored by Kury after the legislature approved it unanimously. Pennsylvanians were well aware of the devastation done by the coal industry, among others. According to Kury, "We were determined this would never happen again."
Less than a half century later, it's happened again.
Unconventional natural gas drilling in shale formations like the Marcellus and the Utica is contaminating water, polluting air, destroying habitats, endangering communities, diminishing quality of life, and making people sick.
The drilling process is known as fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, but it's commonly used even more broadly to refer to entire process of producing, distributing, and processing shale gas.