I was surprised by the speed of the jilting. I have been around the block in the love affair races but even as experienced and jaded as I am I expected more than the “slam bam, thank you mam” that was delivered.
The beginning of the relationship was as usual. Intense, as all of them are at the start. The wooing and the constant small gifts of cash began to win us over. Then came the promises. Oh, there were promises, a million, a hundred million promises. We should have known better.
We made our bed. We did the deal. The hand holding and luscious lies in our ears were too much for our resistance. We gave in and let it happen. A proverb says, if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it. But this wasn’t rape. We had our eyes wide open, along with other things.
Then it was all thrusting and pumping. Suddenly it was deep into us. It was long and hard. The fluid was next, lots of it. Unprotected to say the least. It was over so quickly.
The next morning there was nothing. Everything was gone. Left with the wet spot and a bad taste in our mouth. A taste all too familiar. A taste like ashes, like…culm.
They came, they conquered and they left, like thieves in the night. And mostly we shake our heads and ask each other what happened? And, was it good for you?
Encana Oil & Gas USA Inc. punched two holes in the Back Mt. earth, sniffed around and left so fast that it was like they were never here. A large green pipe with valves juts out of the ground. But the sites that were teeming with workers, trucks and activity just a day before are quite empty.
The Denver Colorado company sent a “Dear John” letter to the lessors of land in the area. Like all such letters it was short and semi-sweet. The usual phrases. It’s not you, it’s me. A typical kiss off closing. “We have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know you.”
I make no secret of my feelings about all this. I was in utter disbelief that gold and greed won over so many of my neighbors so fast. I moved here thirty years ago and saw the remains of what the coal industry did to this area. I was horrified at the thought of the same thing happening all over again. I quickly found out I was powerless to prevent it. As a private citizen at a Lehman Twp. supervisors meeting I asked a question the chairman didn’t like. It was suggested I should leave. Power to the people, right on!
Encana left us but the remnants of their visit will be with us for a long, long time. The issue of to drill or not to drill pitted neighbor against neighbor in a bitter fight that really had no clear resolution. Stacks of signs, pro and con languish in garages. People who thought their financial futures assured are once more not sleeping well. And the ones who felt that we were sacrificing our health for thirty pieces of gold are “cautiously optimistic.”
In the end no one won, no one lost. In my mind it was a near miss.