Last week, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study by Penn State researchers that found traces of fracking chemicals in the well water of three Bradford homes. This group of researchers is doing important work to protect drinking water in our state. Meanwhile, the university is under agreement to sell a parcel of land in Ferguson Township to Toll Brothers developers to build luxury student housing on land previously acknowledged as essentially wellhead protection areas for our community’s water supply.
One can make the argument that fracking reduces our dependence on foreign oil. What benefit does luxury student housing bring to our community? The university and its students enrich my life immeasurably, and those students deserve quality housing options.
However, Centre Region Planning Commission has repeatedly stated there is adequate land for growth without expanding the regional growth boundary. But in rezoning this land in 2004, Ferguson Township did just that.
We need all municipalities to collaborate and adhere to regional planners’ recommendations. Most of all, we need to protect our environment, our drinking water and our community. If our community revolves around educating the next generation, shouldn’t we be setting the highest standards? How can we foster sustainability and environmental research geared to saving our planet, yet seek to develop critical land that filters and recharges up to two-thirds of our drinking water? We shouldn’t need evidence of imminent risk to know that protecting our water supply is the right thing to do.