Agriculture officials have quarantined 28 beef cattle on a Pennsylvania farm after wastewater from a nearby gas well leaked into a field and came in contact with the animals.

The state Department of Agriculture said the action was its first livestock quarantine related to pollution from natural gas drilling. Although the quarantine was ordered in May, it was announced Thursday.

A mere taste of what's to come from natural-gas fracking in the Marcellus Shale, folks.

With fracking, or hydraulic fracturing of rock formations to extract natural gas, we're setting ourselves up for an environmental disaster of epic proportions -- and much of it the result of an inability to develop rural economies. Residents in upstate New York and central Pennsylvania are desperate for income, and the gas companies are happy to write checks for mineral rights. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania and New York are in the middle of state budget crises. The prospect of tax revenue from fracking is apparently more than enough to offset environmental concerns.

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