Residents living in the shadow of fracking rigs say they've suffered from headaches, nosebleeds and other health effects since drilling began in their communities. Meanwhile, state agencies refuse to release the results of air and water pollution tests.
Thirty years ago, Jenny and Tom Lisak moved into a historic farmhouse in Pennsylvania's rural Jefferson County. The couple raised three children there and established a certified organic farm they named LadyBug Farm.
"When living in the country, your time is marked by nature and each season comes with its own smells, sounds and colors," Jenny Lisak recently told environmental researchers. "But those colors have faded and our wellbeing, livelihood and dreams are now threatened."
The trouble started when the oil and gas boom hit Jefferson County and rolled into the Lisak's neighborhood. First came the trucks carrying equipment and supplies in a stream of constant traffic; then oil and gas wells were drilled near LadyBug farm.
The Lisaks say they experienced frequent headaches, fatigue sore throats and eye and nose irritation. After the state issued a permit for an open-air impound pit to store drilling waste next to LadyBug Farm, the family has had trouble sleeping and experienced stress and anxiety.
Facilitated by enhanced drilling techniques known as "fracking," an ongoing oil and gas rush is rapidly industrializing rural Pennsylvania and neighboring states. Since 2005, 20,000 conventional wells and 5,700 "unconventional" wells, which employ controversial new fracking techniques, have been established in Pennsylvania.