A wish list for the grandkids’ New Year

Posted by By at 27 December, at 11 : 44 AM Print

The Jolly Fat Guy Dressed in Red has departed the area. The living room was, for a spell, a sea of colors, tattered by youngsters eagerly tearing into their booty. Within 24 hours, virtually the only remaining sign is the Christmas tree. In a few days, She Who Must Be Obeyed will decree its removal, and the township will come by and take it away.

That’s the natural life cycle of trees: they grow, they die, they become fertilizer for new trees – with a few of them, once a year, adding sparkle to our living rooms and memories to our kids’ Christmases.

The youngsters, upon tearing away the paper coverings from their gifts, received coloring books, toys, makeup, and gift certificates, depending on their age and what was known to Santa and Helpers of their desires. They all seemed happy, but there were some gifts I wish could have been included.

I would like to see our legislature charge the same Marcellus natural gas fee (we can’t call it a tax because Gov. Tom Corbett already promised no new taxes) that other major natural gas producing states charge.

To be sure, the industry is upgrading roads – and building new ones, where necessary – to facilitate its access to the drilling fields. And it is paying us for the timber it is removing from our public forests to make way for drilling pads and pipelines. But I worry about accidents that surely will happen, because they always do, regardless of how carefully and responsibly the drillers pursue their endeavors. And I worry about the cost to the state’s taxpayers when the drilling is over and the owners of the multitude of new motels, built to accommodate the visiting drill rig workers, are begging for tourism promotion money to help fill the newly-emptied rooms. And, with reason based on history, I wonder about the eventual effects of our blasting fractures in geologic structures a mile-and-a-half beneath our homes and businesses.

It would have been nice for the grandkids’ gifts to have included vouchers for education and environmental repairs that would have been marked “Paid in Full.”

I would like my grandkids to have jobs making things, such as solar panels and other non-fossil fuel energy sources for their homes and businesses. I know we cannot switch from oil to sunlight overnight, but …

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported earlier this month that several banks well-known for their parts in the 2008 economic bust – Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Lehman Brothers among them – fronted $6.5 billion to help seven Chinese startup solar panel makers gain entry to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. The result was more than 1,100 U.S. jobs killed when Solyndra, a California-based solar panel maker, filed bankruptcy and closed its doors this fall.

Solyndra was not the only U.S. casualty, only the most publicized.

Meanwhile, our lawmakers provide “waivers” to companies such as Sunoco, which otherwise would be required by law to use U.S. ships and crews to haul natural gas between Pennsylvania and Louisiana. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., touted the waiver as a job creator but in fact it will allow Sunoco to build a tanker loading facility in Marcus Hook, Pa. that will require only 25 full-time workers to operate.

On the other hand, I have faith in our free market system of government to solve our grandkids’ problems. It will come up with solutions as soon as the problems it has helped us create become severe enough that we’re willing to pay to have them resolved.

So here is wishing a Happy and Profitable New Year for makers of cleaner air and water, so our grandkids can breath a little easier.

Photo by cobalt123


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This post was written by:
- who has written 169 posts for Rock The Capital
John Messeder is an award winning journalist with more than 35 years experience writing about education, environment and local government issues. He has lived in Maine, Florida, California and Alaska, and, by temporary turns, numerous places in between. John also is an accomplished photographer, and avid hiker, conservationist, oral history buff, and author of several books he has not yet got 'round to writing. He lives in Adams County, Pa., just over a hill from Gettysburg, with his wife and Golden Retriever. He may be contacted at john@JohnMesseder.com - Email jmesseder

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