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Monday, March 21, 2011

Editor Of Bradford Era Asks "How Dare They?"

Featured Editorial

by Marty Robacker Wilder, Editor
Bradford Era
Published 3-17-2011

How dare they?

How could anything be more important to a community than public safety?

Three people were nearly killed in the Bradford area over the past few months by “mysterious explosions” and, reportedly, there have also been other gas-related incidents that never made it to the press.

And, yet, when this issue is brought to the table, it’s done at a meeting that is “by invitation only.”

Who was on the guest list? Bradford Township Supervisors, Foster Township Supervisors, McKean County Commissioners, State Police, state Department of Environmental Protection, Bradford Township Volunteer Fire Department, McKean County Emergency Management Agency, McKean County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia Gas and National Fuel Gas, an aide for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Bradford City Fire Department, the state Public Utility Commission, Cline Oil, Howard Drilling, a representative from Travelers Insurance — and even an attorney for a personal injury law firm.

Did we miss anyone? Oh, yeah — you. Your invitation must be in the mail.

The Era, as you’ve probably read, was denied access to the meeting. As your representatives in these settings, we must ask: How dare they?

How dare they meet in private on an issue of such great public concern?

We honestly don’t care how they justify this secret meeting — we’ve heard every excuse in the book over the years — because nothing can forgive their behavior not just as a violation of the Sunshine law but as a violation of the public trust.

We would like to tell you, in detail, about what was discussed inside the meeting hall but all we received was a secondhand report about these “mysterious” explosions which occurred, one on Dec. 12 in which two people were injured, and a second Feb. 28 in which a lucky homeowner was out shoveling snow when his house exploded.

Sheriff Brad Mason was kind enough to speak to our reporters after the meeting but, in all honesty, he merely reiterated what’s already been said: Gas migration is being explored as a possible factor in the house explosions and similar incidents that have reportedly occurred in the Bradford area.

Since nobody seems to be able to pinpoint the exact source of these explosions, there has been broad speculation that ongoing oil drilling activity in the general vicinity may somehow be triggering gas to migrate into people’s homes.

As we all know, holes have been poked in this historic Bradford oilfield for more than 100 years and many abandoned and uncapped wells continue to make what’s been called “Swiss cheese” of our underground terrain.

Could this provide an explanation for the “mysterious” explosions? And could that, in turn, also be part of the reason for a closed-door meeting?

After all, nobody wants to point the finger at anyone or anything that revolves around the oil and gas industry. Some believe it’s the panacea for all the ills of our economically depressed region — regardless of any consequences.

Already, there is a nationwide debate simmering on the environmental concerns over how a new source of energy, the Marcellus Shale, is being extracted from the ground. A couple explosions here and there in a little town known as Bradford, Pa. — one of the birthplaces of the oil industry — could really stir the pot.

Interestingly, as public officials were gathered Tuesday at the Bradford Township Volunteer Firehall to discuss this important matter, the press is marking Sunshine Week. It’s a time when we point to the ongoing efforts to “shed light” on issues of public concern. The irony could not be greater.

We have talked about these explosions in the newsroom amazed, as always, about public officials’ reluctance to speak to these very serious concerns.

Our last comment, always, is, guess we’ll just have to wait for someone to get killed.

This editorial was republished in full with permission, courtesy of Marty Robacker Wilder and The Bradford Era.


Anonymous said...

For once - it's not all about freedom of the press is it? Maybe all of this is because you people only print part of the fact. Perhaps it's because you tend to make an attempt to ruin lives instead of reporting facts. Look into yourselves a little more - investigate and you will certainly find your answers.

Anonymous said...

Just take a look at Japan ...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

All democrat propaganda

Anonymous said...

"Residents are questioning..."
What does that even mean?
Do you have any helpful information to share from anybody who knows anything?
I'm questioning whether the world is flat because if you keep going on one direction far enough surely you'll fall off.
Is that news too?

Anonymous said...

Who's lives are the Bradford Era trying to destroy? Name some names please!

There is nothing wrong with public safety issues being made public!

How can they let representatives from the oil business in and not private citizens?

As far as I know, only private citizens have had their homes and property blown up!

This is a public matter!

Good job Bradford Era and especially Marty Wilder!

Keep up the good work! Please shine some light on the other explosions that weren't already covered in the paper!



Anonymous said...

what does freedom of the press have to do with anything? Nobody said that you couldn't say this or that about anything, they just didn't choose to include you in their meeting.

School boards have closed meeting, townships have closed meetings, I'm sure the bradford era has closed meetings.

I think you need to grow up and get over the fact that not everyone likes distorters snooping in things that they don't need to.

Anonymous said...


Just reading some of these comments.... I think this area deserves to turn into the wasteland it's about to become.

Anonymous said...

@4:32, perhaps if Bradford were more open about a public safety issue, there wouldn't be any perception of distortion.

Anonymous said...

The blame will always be put to the gas and or the oil companys because they have the deepest pockets !

Anonymous said...

"How could anything be more important to a community than public safety?"

How could anything be more important to a
than public safety?

If they suspected this to be caused by the drilling operations near orphaned wells,
this risk is not limited to Bradford Township.

Many areas of our state are experiencing drilling near
orphaned and abandon
oil and gas wells that have not been plugged.

We have many here in Potter near our newer active sites.

If this were a risk posed on the public from the food industry, there would be a public notification warning people.

It this were a toy that could cause injury, it would be banned.

It this was a car it would be recalled.

Children and infant furniture,
building products,tools,
the list goes on and on.

Many things that risk public health and injury are recalled or banned to protect the public's health and safety.

Why do we allow this industry to continue to risk the public, while
operating under weaker regulations and oversight and lower standards
then any other industry.

Anonymous said...

this article is inflammatory and inappropriate for someone who considers themselves a real journalist. "I guess we'll just have to wait for someone to get killed" dear god!! melo-dramatic much? you are using your position to perversely obtain public support. I have to agree with 4:32. Some meetings have to be held in private to protect the accuracy of the information because as this editorial shows so well, you are not above blatant conjecture. the "Freedom of the Press" person......That provides people the freedom to utilize mediums such as print and digital information to convey a message. It doesn't say they can go wherever they want to.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe Q. Public,

You can't handle the truth....

When your talking about BILLION dollar industries controlled by alot of powerful people, you can bet there are many many private behind closed door amused that they threw you this tidbit of info...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they are hinding something. It just makes me sick to part of this greedy, corrupt country. They work for our citizens, so hells yeah it's our business! December 22, 2012 is coming soon so I guess it don't matter Right. Lol

Anonymous said...

Thanks, public officials and others, for violating the Sunshine Act. Fools! The Era is actually doing the right thing. Keep at it, Marty!

Anonymous said...

"To protect the accuracy of the information...."
That is a ridiculous justification to exclude the public from a meeting at which public business is being discussed.
There is no legal justification for such a private meeting "to protect the accuracy of the information."
It is laughable to even read that.
If you really believe in that concept, you should move to a nation where the government controls and censors what information the people access.
In Libya, for example, if you watch the state-run TV you would think all is well and Ghadhafi is Allah reincarnated.
He probably has forces in place to "protect the accuracy of the information."

Anonymous said...

To the morons writing about freedom of the press and the moron that wrote this, IT IS AN INVESTIGATION!!! Duh. Do the police allow the press or the public into interrogation rooms? Morons morons everywhere but not a one can think.

Anonymous said...

A blatant lie by the writer and I hope the township sues the Era out of business.

Anonymous said...

If that "meeting" was a fact gathering session maybe a grand jury should have been involved.
It is almost impossible to have that size gathering and keep a wrap on what was said.
I agree with the editorial ---"how dare they keep the public out of this meeting"

Anonymous said...

I completely understand why they keep it a closed door meeting. At the first mention of migrating gas and everyone is on board to blame big oil. In case anyone failed to notice, THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT CAUSE IT! That's what the meeting was about, possible causes. Not that it will matter now, The Era told everybody it was migrating gas so, there you have it. Settled! No need to continue investigating cause even if they find it's not migrating gas it will be deemed a cover-up!
Seems more likely that the Era is looking for more readers and what a good way to get it, stir the pot!
aka Bradford Resident

Anonymous said...

Replace ... oil, gas, water, polution, greed with ... school taxes, education cuts, huge teacher wages, teacher unions, then see if you change your tune.

Anonymous said...

If public officials were in attendance and public safety issues were discussed, then it's EVERYONE'S business what went on! The morons here who are crowing about it 'not being the public's business' are as dumb as they are clueless. The people who live in these communities have the right to know what's making their neighbors' houses BLOW THE FREAK UP!!!!
It's NOT an investigation either, when you include people who have nothing to do with safety, meaning an attorny for personal suits and an aide to a politician. What these people did, by excluding the press, is wrong, and they should be held accountable for it.
A classic case of people writing comments in here who are obviously hacks for the gas industry or paid stiffs for those responsible.

Anonymous said...


65 Pa.C.S.A. § 707. Exceptions to open meetings

(a) Executive session. — An agency may hold an executive session under section 708 (relating to executive sessions).

(b) Conference. — An agency is authorized to participate in a conference which need not be open to the public. Deliberation of agency business may not occur at a conference.

(c) Certain working sessions. — Boards of auditors may conduct working sessions not open to the public for the purpose of examining, analyzing, discussing and deliberating the various accounts and records with respect to which such boards are responsible, so long as official action of a board with respect to such records and accounts is taken at a meeting open to the public and subject to the provisions of this chapter.

LOOK AT SECTION B MARTY. Obviously not a violation and I hope they sue you out of a job!

Anonymous said...

I also would like to quote this section of the sunshine law.

65 Pa.C.S.A. § 708. Executive sessions

specifically section 4 and 5

(4) To consult with its attorney or other professional advisor regarding information or strategy in connection with
litigation or with issues on which identifiable complaints are expected to be filed.

(5) To review and discuss agency business which, if conducted in public, would violate a lawful privilege or lead
to the disclosure of information or confidentiality protected by law, including matters related to the initiation and
conduct of investigations of possible or certain violations of the law and quasi-judicial deliberations.

Anonymous said...

The greed of both the corporations and many blinded, Fox News drone citizens will ruin the state. There was too much excitement about letting them all in, and now you may be on a path that you can't turn back from like Arkansas...

Anonymous said...

stir up the drama..drama...drama! I know there is freedom of the press, but perhaps everything little thing you sniff out and around is not actually any of your beeswax. If it turns into a big enough story, Katie or Anderson will come and take care of it for you. ;o)

Anonymous said...

March 22, 2011 10:05
Homes exploding near active gas drilling operations deserves a little drama.
Homes exploding is not just a concern/hazard limited to Bradford.

It needs to be addressed in all the areas that are currently being drilled.

Paul_Roden said...

DEP has a list of over 162 properties near frackin wells, whose water from wells or other sources have been contaminated by chemicals used in the fracking process from cracks underground, defectived well casings, leaks from well blowouts or waste water truck shipments. There is not one study out there totaling the cost of storage or treatment of waste water or well cuttings. Where will all that well waste be stored, treated and how much will it cost? No knows. Radioactive radon comes with the gas. No one has accessed the health impact or costs of breating in radioactive radon from natural gas let alone the healthcare costs. Finally, we hear and see all of this propaganda about "clean" natural gas and that "we need it as a transition fuel" until solar and wind energy are ready. And now they want to export this gas that we were told also "would lead to our energy independence." Exporting natural gas will not lead to our energy independence just increase the price and cause more environmental impact from more wells, pipelines and pumping stations. We can transition to renewable energy by 2030 like the Germans are doing with existing technology without fossil fuel or nuclear energy. Fracking is too dangerous, too expensive and totally unnecessary for our energy needs. Read the article by Jacobso and Delucchi in the Nov. 2009 Scientific American. We have the technology and the resources to live without fossil fuel or nucelar power. The only thing lacking is the political will because the fossil fuel, nuclear energy and centralized electric utilities are blocking it by buyinf off all of the politicians at the Federal and State level with their campaign donations and their brain washing commercials on the media.