The fracking boom hadn't begun yet in Pennsylvania when J. Stephen Cleghorn and his wife purchased a rundown 50-acre farm in Jefferson County with the intention of building it up into a certified organic farm selling vegetables and goat dairy products.
Four years later, in 2009, when a big rig started horizontally drilling for gas nearby, Cleghorn began to see the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on his farm. Those effects included health impacts on a neighbor's collies and a polluted spring - the kind of problems that now farmers in many states are experiencing and are indicative of a myriad of possible pathways for exposure to fracking.
Recent studies by public health and veterinarian scientists are confirming there is cause for concern when it comes to fracking's potential impact on farm crops and animals.
Soon after the big rig had started drilling about four miles from Cleghorn's farm, a neighboring organic farmer who lived downhill from that rig soon saw one of her farm's water sources, a spring, polluted by what looked like orange acid mine drainage from an old coal mine that the drilling had apparently circulated toward her spring.