Thursday, May 06, 2010

Marcellus Shale news: Times Leader redeems itself

After putting a puff piece on the front page the same day that their competitor newspaper the Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice ran an article about Marcellus Shale preliminary drill work being done in close proximity to regional reservoirs and watersheds, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader has made up for it a bit with an excellent article detailing how, quietly, without any fanfare, Whitmar Exploration Co. of Denver, Colorado, in conjunction with EnCana Oil & Gas, has been signing leases with property owners throughout the Back Mountain area of Northeastern Pennsylvania - amounting to more than 25,000 acres of leased land bordering the regional reservoirs, as described in the Citizens' Voice article.

Much of Back Mt. leased The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA

These leases are binding legal agreements. Have the people who have leased their lands read all the fine print and understood all of the legal ramifications? If they haven't - well, it's too late now. They will have to live with their decisions - as will their neighbors, and everyone else in the region.

In an economically distressed region like Northeastern Pennsylvania, where neither politicians nor private individuals seem to be particularly interested in bringing in industry or employment, it is very tempting to say "yes" to someone promising quick, ready cash with no real effort on your part. But the consequences of that "yes" will linger long after that money has been spent.

Meanwhile, in today's Citizens' Voice, more on the residents of Dimock and their fight for a real solution to their methane-contaminated wellwater. The drilling company in Dimock, Cabot Oil & Gas, "maintains that the methane in the water is naturally occurring and was present in Susquehanna County water wells long before any drilling began. " Let's hope those folks in the Back Mountain are getting their wellwater tested to establish pre-drilling levels of methane and other contaminants - if their leases allow for such a thing.

DEP secretary, Dimock Twp. families discuss water solution - News - Citizens Voice

And don't think it's just here, or just a Marcellus Shale thing. There are other shale formations that may contain trapped natural gas that companies are eager to extract using the environmentally destructive fracking process. From a comment on the Facebook version of my "Front-page news: Marcellus Shale vs. Farmville" post:

"We're in the Barnett shale so we've seen this before. In this area the best bet for effective regulation seems to be local ordinance since petro lobbyists tend to 'help' write the state laws. You should be seeing lots of advertising touting the good citizenship of the drilling companies. You might regulate them but you probably can't stop them. If you own property , don't let them screw you on your mineral rights."

(FYI, here in the former coal regions of Northeastern PA, a lot of people already don't own mineral rights. Some of us have been through this before, but with coal mining.)

Doing some reading on the Barnett shale will give you a sense of things to come for this area. And looking at the devastation left by the coal mining industry will give you a longer-term sense of where things are going.

See also:
Susquehanna River Sentinel: EnCana: Serwquacksi
time to join the fight « FRACK MOUNTAIN

Educate yourself:
GDAC – Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition
un-natural-gas (blog)
Susquehanna River Sentinel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The people of the hills and the people of the valley share an interest in preserving our water.

I think the Citizen's Voice article underscored that this is not just a Back Mountain issue. Many in the valley depend on the Back Mountain's environmental integrity for the safety of their water.

And now the Times Leader demonstrates how ubiquitous and widespread the plans are. When I questioned EnCana about the planned number of wells at the zoning hearing they said they had no idea because all this was strictly experimental and that was their sole plan at this point.

Right, so that is why you signed up "more than 25,000 acres". I guess that represents 25 million at the very least. It would be worthwhile to get a better estimate.

It seems clear to me, they plan to transform this area into a large industrial zone.

Thank you for your always insightful coverage of this invasion by these unprincipled extraction opportunists.

"We shall not be moved"