In the space of a week, give or take a dozen hours, five drivers received citations for overweight trucks hauling loads to gas drilling sites.
On Tuesday, January 26, Kevin Parsons parked his truck on Covered Bridge Road in Burlington Township, Bradford County, PA. He was driving a truck for Hodges Trucking Company, out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a company that is listed by Chesapeake Energy lists as a subsidiary on its Web site. Had Parsons read the road signs he would have known that Covered Bridge Road is posted for a weight limit of 10 tons, and he might have chosen a less conspicuous place to park.
You see, the state police noticed the truck because it was parked illegally. They thought it looked a bit heavy, so they hauled out their handy-dandy scale and discovered that Parsons' truck weighed more than 51 tons. Not only was that 41-plus tons over the posted weight limit, but that's a lot of extra tonnage to be hauling around on two-lane gravel-and-oil country roads.
The police also found a whole bunch of permit violations and fined Parsons $25,000.
Then, just yesterday the state police fined four more drivers of gas industry service trucks for hauling illegal oversize loads. The guys, driving in a convoy, were stopped on US Route 6 in North Towanda. They were employed by T.K. Stanley Inc., an energy industry services company based in Waynesboro, Mississippi, a company that provides everything from roustabouts to preparing drilling sites to trucking in the drill rigs and equipment. Their fines ranged from $1440 to $6600. Unfortunately, the truckers couldn't post bail and were sent to the hoosegow to cool their heels.
Ask people what they're concerned about with drilling and somewhere near the top of the list is "truck traffic". People worry that overweight trucks will put undue wear and tear on the road. They worry that the increased amount of traffic will put additional wear and tear on the roads. They worry that speeding truckers may run into school buses (this has also happened recently; thankfully no one was hurt). They worry that truckers from Oklahoma and Alabama may not know how to drive on steep icy mountain roads. Well, maybe after this winter the good folks in Oklahoma will have mastered the art of steering into a skid, but still, these concerns are valid.
But what really galls most people is the idea that the gas companies will tear up the roads, extract the natural gas, and skip town leaving the taxpayers to cover the costs of repairing the roads. People are outraged at the idea that the public will be subsidizing the profits of wealthy multinational corporations - and a few lucky landowners who happen to strike it rich.