Let’s blow up the moon! (Unnerving correspondence with a state senator)

About a week ago, I emailed Pennsylvania senator Gene Yaw a simple statement.


I had just heard (admittedly, via an email from PennEnvrionment) that Loyalsock State Forest was in danger of being opened for natural gas drilling and I was hoping to influence the political decision making behind the project.  Mr. Yaw responded within minutes:


“When were you last in the Loyalsock Forest?” No greeting, no closing.

I admit, I sent my email in a hurry, and it probably could have been more detailed, but at least it was respectful.

I was initially filled with shame when I read Mr. Yaw’s response. I haven’t visited Loyalsock State Forest in years (if ever), but I do frequent its neighbor, World’s End State Park. These places share a watershed that was contaminated by natural gas operations last year; I saw a favorite swimming hole on the news. I told Mr. Yaw about this in my response.


Picture 45

Now that I few days have passed, I’m thinking of sending a follow-up email, perhaps with my vacation photos from the area. Perhaps I should mention a few other things:

– Do I have to frequent a place to care whether or not it’s destroyed? My friend said it best, when he commented on my encounter:

Picture 44

-What about my tax dollars? Aren’t I paying taxes for state lands? Actually, I’m paying Gene Yaw’s salary. Why am I paying someone to treat me with disrespect?

-I can’t help but notice that tourists from Baltimore discovered the Loyalsock Creek contamination. So, obviously, my friends from NYC are not the only ones that seek out that area as a vacation destination.

-What about the people who live in that area? Their heath could be at risk. Am I not allowed to care about them?

Any other thoughts?

This photo is for you, Mr. Yaw. I was there, and it was spectacular.

"World's End" sure is an ironic name, isn't it?

“World’s End” sure is an ironic name, isn’t it?

3/15/12 UPDATE:

What: March from Loyalsock State Forest to Chairman Yaw’s Williamsport office
When: March 25 at 9:00 a.m.
Where: Loyalsock State Forest (exact meeting location and directions will be emailed out)
RSVP here.



  1. Chris Reeves

    When you follow up with this, I think you should send him a link to this post. This is well written, and a sentiment that many people would overlook when wrapped up in arguments for the environment. The same can be said for ecosystems that are as impossible as getting to as the moon, but where we may have lasting and unforeseen effects. Only a handful of people have personally been to the deepest parts of the ocean, but the rest of us are allowed to be concerned when we discuss things like carbon sequestration that will likely destroy habitats we barely understand, and which may effect us in ways we don’t yet know. Given the effects of carbon emissions on the climate, Mr. Yaw’s comment is like asking you when the last time was that you spoke to any of 7 billion strangers who may also be affected by climate change.

    Out of curiosity, I would be interested to know when the last time was that Mr. Yaw had been to Loyalsock State Forest himself for anything besides meeting with natural gas drilling executives.

    Great post!

  2. Thomas Wilson

    Its attitude’s like this that remind me of the chapter in The Lord of Rings entitled the “Scouring of the Shire”. I think Tolkien expressed my sentiments on conservation well enough,

    “I feel that as long as the Shire (or any unspoiled wilderness) lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.”

    Some people just can’t comprehend the intrinsic worth of these places.

    Let us know if Mr. Yaw ever gives you a proper response.

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