Pennsylvania

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BoomTown: How Drilling Has Changed Towanda, PA

Becky Lettenberger / NPR

Trucks drive down Towanda's main drag. Click on the image to view StateImpact Pennsylvania's new multimedia project, called "Boomtown."


StateImpact Pennsylvania’s latest project, BoomTown, documents how natural gas drilling has affected Towanda, Bradford County. Click here to watch and listen to the report.

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What does a drilling boom look like?

In Towanda, Bradford County, it looks like trucks rumbling across Veterans Memorial Bridge and down Main Street. The vehicles,  hauling water, chemicals, equipment, sand and dirt more to and from natural gas drilling sites, have been a steady presence since 2008, when hydraulic fracturing began in surrounding Bradford County.

“The traffic here is horrendous,” says Joe Benjamin, a recent college graduate who lives in Towanda. But the increased flow also means more revenue for Towanda’s businesses. “That’s why we never complained about the traffic,” notes Karen Parkhurst, who operates a Towanda eatery called the Weigh Station. “When there’s traffic there’s people coming into your restaurant.”

Click on the above image to view StateImpact Pennsylvania's new multimedia project, "Boomtown."

Benjamin and Parkhurst are two of the dozens of people StateImpact Pennsylvania interviewed for a new multimedia project called “BoomTown.” Our goal was to document how natural gas drilling has changed life in a Pennsylvania town. We picked Towanda because it’s the seat of Bradford County, which has seen more Marcellus Shale wells drilled than any other Pennsylvania county. Towanda was one of the first communities to experience natural gas drilling here.

Towanda is also one of the first places in Pennsylvania to experience the downside of the drilling boom. The rate of drilling has slowed down significantly in Bradford County, as natural gas prices have fallen. That translates to less revenue for the Weigh Station and other Towanda businesses who saw increased profits in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Click here to learn more about how the drilling boom has impacted life in Towanda.

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