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State laws offer little protection to archeological sites from shale drilling

May 9, 2011

Pennsylvania laws offer “little to no” protection from gas drilling operations for archeological treasures, David Templeton reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday, May 8th:

An excavation at a Westmoreland County site once occupied by Monongahela Indians produced abundant evidence of two villages and allowed researchers to piece together the violent end of the later settlement at the hand of invaders who sacked it, massacred its inhabitants and burnt houses and food stores,” said William C. Johnson, who served as an advisor to the project.

But when Mr. Johnson returned to the dig site last year he was stunned by what he found.

There is a drill rig and catchment basin sitting on half the village, ” said Mr. Johnson, who received a doctoral degree from the University of  Pittsburgh and served as senior prehistoric archaeologist for Michael Baker Jr. Engineering Inc.  “You have something there — which is better than you get with [excavations of] other villages — that has been destroyed by drilling.”

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