The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported today on a disturbing ruling by a judge in Beaver County, PA. A family is suing a drilling company over a contract signed in 2005. They feel they signed the contract under false pretenses. This week they asked that the company stop felling trees on their property until it was decided if the contract was legal. The company has never paid the family a dime and until February had done nothing toward drilling on the property. However, during the last week of March, it was discovered that an endangered species, the Indiana bat, hunted in this forest, which caused the company to speed up its activity. Seems the U.S. Fish and Wildlife forbids clearing of land from April 1 to November 1 during the species’ hunting season. That’s the rule, but the agency’s fact sheet on the bat recommends against timbering in their habitat.
“Once as plentiful as the passenger pigeon, these little flying mammals are rapidly falling toward extinction,” the fact sheet states.
Even though there is a pending lawsuit in Common Pleas court against the legality of the original contract signed by this family in 2005, a federal judge went ahead on March 30 and said the felling of the forest could continue. On March 31, Chesapeake Apalachia, a marcellus shale drilling company, worked against the clock to take down every last tree in the bat’s habitat before the midnight hour struck. Reports said they finished in plenty of time.
And the biggest irony of all? The whole operation could get shut down in the Common Pleas court. The habitat will have been horribly destroyed for naught. How could this judge ever think he had the right to allow the deforestation to continue?
Nobody loses more than the Indiana bat in this fight. And it didn’t even get its day in court.