PA’s Refusal to Learn

Has anyone noticed that PA, as a state, has refused to learn from its past environmental mishaps? Recently, my master was talking about acid mine drainage. He said it was a big deal in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but then everyone forgot about it.

When he was in grade school, my master went on a field trip where he learned about creeks and streams and water– and how it’s all connected. There were biologists who explained how acid mine drainage hurts our waterways. There were biologists who “shocked” the water to stun fish so that all the children could see how scientists are able to take observations of the fish’s health.

Now, twenty-odd years later, he tells me this story– and I can’t help but wonder: Why didn’t the humans in charge of PA clean up the prior environment damage from the energy industry before they embraced this new unconventional shale gas development?

“Clean up one mess before you make another, Ada.” That’s what my master tells me!

The refusal to do so is no accident. If PA has its act together enough to target school children in a concerted effort, then it’s not like humans don’t know about the damage from prior energy industries. So, since they know about it, the only conclusion I am left to draw is that the refusal to learn from one mistake before moving on to another proven problem-maker is intentional. Or, am I wrong– and the Governor is unaware of the acid mine drainage problems that still exist? Or that PA town that’s burning underground?

Nah, nevermind those isolated incidences… PA is intentionally compounding the environmental problems that haunt it from years before. Today, I leave you with a few thoughts about where we are starting at the moment. The paragraph below is taken from, which published a piece called “PA is #1 in All the Wrong Things.”

  • Pennsylvania is the worst state in the U.S. for acid mine drainage. Over 2,400 miles of Pennsylvania’s streams are contaminated by the runoff from abandoned mines. The incidence of acid mine drainage is well-documented by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Pennsylvania has one-third of all the abandoned mine-related problems in the country.
  • Unreclaimed coal mines are Pennsylvania’s single biggest water quality problem. Environmental problems caused by past mining affect 45 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Pennsylvania has 250,000 acres of unreclaimed mine land. Old underground mines lay beneath more than 150,000 acres of land that may collapse.
  • Pennsylvania has 83,261 miles of flowing water — second only to Alaska — but as many as one-third of those rivers, creeks and streams have been polluted by acid mine drainage, sewage, agricultural runoff or urban storm water runoff (source Don Hopey, Post-Gazette: “Making us conscious of streams”)

Keep in mind, that’s where you are starting from… it gets worse from here on out or until unconventional shale gas development is stopped.

About adamaecompton

just a three-legged rescue dog, bloggin about critical citizenship, the environment, and all sorts of literacy.
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