Communities debate drilling for shale gas beneath cemeteries
(The Associated Press; June 30) -- Loved ones aren't the only ones buried in the 122-year-old Lowellville Cemetery in northeastern Ohio. Deep underground, locked in ancient shale formations, are lucrative quantities of natural gas. Whether to drill for that gas is causing soul-searching as cemeteries -- including veterans' final resting places in Colorado and Mississippi - join parks, playgrounds, churches and residential backyards among the ranks of places targeted in the nation's shale-drilling boom.
Opponents say cemeteries are hallowed grounds that shouldn't be sullied by drilling activity, which they said would be noisy, smelly and unsightly. Defenders say the drilling is so deep that it won't disturb the cemetery and can generate revenue to enhance the roads and grounds. Concerns are driven largely by a lack of information, said John Stephenson, president of Texas Cemeteries Association. "You're hundreds of feet below the ground, and it's not disturbing any graves."
"Most people don't like it," said 70-year-old Marilee Pilkington, who lives down the road from Lowellville Cemetery and whose father, brother, nephew and niece are all buried there. "I think it's a dumb idea because I wouldn't want anyone up there disturbing the dead."