Getting involved in the movement to promote natural gas development can be as simple as picking up a pen and paper or writing an email. Take a look at what landowners and other natural gas supporters in Pennsylvania and New York are doing to promote and secure the right to benefit from the Marcellus Shale in their communities. If you like what they have written, think about doing something similar yourself. If you have questions on how to do this contact one of the members of the EID- Northeast Marcellus team for advice or pointers.
Letters Regarding Natural Gas Industry:
Letter Published in the Corning Leader, August 2011
At Tom Reed’s Town Hall Meeting in Burdett, New York last Saturday, the vast majority of the people in attendance were full of emotion and not fact, when it came to the subject of horizontal gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale. It was stated that a “trickle” of accusations has led some people in the audience to believe that the natural gas industry is more trouble than it is worth.
In actuality, there is a “flood” of evidence that shows that the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania is providing excellent paying jobs and economic stimulus. In the area of Pennsylvania where gas drilling is occurring, unemployment rates have decreased, while home prices have increased. This is the only area in the country where this is happening.
It was stated that gas companies and people with gas under their land are “winning”, while everyone else is “losing”. The facts are, that natural gas prices have fallen from fourteen dollars per thousand cubic feet, to less than four dollars per thousand cubic feet. This has enabled the 70% of people in the country that heat their homes and businesses with natural gas to experience a tremendous saving in their energy costs. This saving can be attributed completely to the gas drilling companies and the landowners in Pennsylvania who leased their mineral rights in the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania in the past three years.
When drilling starts in New York next year, New Yorkers will have the assurance that DEC will have the most stringent standards in the country, and that America will become energy independent. This abundance of natural gas will be used to fuel our transportation systems. We will finally be free from the killing of young Americans who are protecting foreign energy, and be able to bring them home.
If I hear the rant that gas drilling will kill the tourism industry in New York once more, I may become emotional. The only thing that is going to kill tourism in New York State is escalated gas prices and unemployment, which will kill tourism indefinitely.
We have a 14 trillion dollar debt, which is growing each day, is owed mostly to China who holds trillions of dollars in treasury notes. China is the 800 pound gorilla in the room; we aren’t going to tell them what to do. We need to develop a new energy policy and new industries in this country to get out of this financial mess. Developing the natural gas industry in our country is the first step to reach this goal.
Steuben County Land Owners Coalition
Letters Regarding “Dimock Box”
Michael Krancer, Secretary DEP
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market St.
Harrisburg, Pa. 17101
Dear Mr. Secretary,
My name is Esther Rayias and I live with my husband in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. My two sisters and I own the farm which my family has owned since the early 1900′s. Five years ago Cabot Oil & Gas came to us about leasing our property. As my grandfather had leased to gas companies before, we figured it would give us some money to pay real estate taxes for a couple of years. Imagine how we felt when we were told about four years ago that they wanted to drill for gas on our farm. But we know that sometime things get in the way. In March 2010, Cabot started a pad on which to drill the gas well. My husband and I were thrilled as our daughter was getting married and we figured the money would come in handy. But, being very practical, we wouldn’t spend money we didn’t have. In April, 2010, along comes the moratorium on the 9 square mile area. Of course, we were in the 9 square miles. Our property has been torn up for approximately 15 months.
As the moratorium has been in place for 14 months now with no end in sight, my question to you is this; what needs to happen to get the drilling started? When I can see wells being drilled that are closer to the Carter Road area than I am, I don’t understand. In fact, there is a well that was recently drilled which is ¼ of a mile from my house, but because it is in a different township and outside of the 9 square mile area, it’s okay to drill. I don’t understand.
I want responsible drilling to be done; however, I want drilling. I believe that Cabot has been responsible for their actions. I believe they have met the normal standards; however, the standards can’t be changed because someone in a position of authority has an issue with the industry.
The gas industry has been very good for Susquehanna County and in particular, Dimock. I know many people who have been helped by this. I am hoping that my husband and I can also be helped. My work has been cut in half this year. My husband had to have emergency surgery this year and is now out of work on disability.
I would like someone to answer my question; what needs to happen to get the drilling started? I would appreciate some answers. Our lives have been on hold because of this.
Thank you for your time.
Letters Regarding Pipelines:
Published in the Wyalusing Rocket-Courier, March 1, 2012
Intent of Gas Foes Questioned
It seems it is human nature to be loud when you disagree with something and to sit back and enjoy when things are going your way, especially when the topic is natural gas. Three negative events have provoked me out of content silence.
The first was an interview about our experience with Central New York Oil & Gas in response to a group of non-residents who claim the right to say what happens on OUR land regarding natural gas companies. We are happy to discuss the enjoyable relationship we have shared with CNYOG for many years prior to Marc-1. They always listened and address any questions or concerns as quickly and amicably as possible.
The second was an article in your paper regarding a landowner in Terrytown with an eminent domain issue—a clear misunderstanding of the difference between gathering and transmission pipelines. CNYOG is a transmission company; their purpose is to get this natural gas to the end user, the same as the electric company bringing electricity to your neighbor.
The third occurrence came in the form of a warning of a man posing as a CNN reporter trying to gain access to the compressor sites near us, including our property. How dare these protesters and groups of people claiming to be “saving us” from our leases on our land walk across my property uninvited or without permission. What makes them any better?
If it weren’t for the exploration of oil and gas, we would be another “dead” community. These companies have brought jobs, money and community service into the area. Local businesses in general are seeing more income and new ones are opening.
Yes, with progress, sometimes “bad” things can happen, but don’t let these few negative incidents over shadow the vast good.
Letters Regarding Delaware River Basin Commission:
Mike Uretsky: Guest Column: Moving the gas engine forward, Towanda Review, March 25, 2012
Pennsylvania has one of the largest natural gas deposits in the world. Its responsible development can enhance national security and heighten economic recovery for our country, state and citizenry – all while moving us toward a sounder environment. While Governor Corbett’s 2-12-13 Budget and the related Comprehensive Shale Legislation outline successes, plans for recovery, and updates to shale development regulations, other actions are needed to continue the momentum. These actions are straightforward, can yield significant benefits, and reflect insights gained while serving on a DOE energy task force.
Some of those benefits are already being realized. Consider these examples: Increased use of gas from domestic sources is reducing dangerous dependence on foreign oil sources that are subject to both political conflicts and growing competition as other countries deal with their own growth and economic recovery issues. A recent Penn State study shows that gas exploration has already added 156,000 jobs to the Pennsylvania economy with the potential of another 250,000 by 2020. Although gas is a fossil fuel, even with increased use, it will have a better environmental footprint than alternatives.
Although Pennsylvania has already reaped benefits, and its regulatory structure is a model for others, there are still areas needed to be addressed.
First, a guiding principal: Fears need to be addressed. Many people are scared of hydraulic fracturing and its effects. While few of these fears are supported by good science and experience, they are real to many people. Both industry and the government must explicitly recognize their existence and continually demonstrate that they are being addressed in a responsible manner.
The regulatory structure needs to be streamlined. The good news is that all critical aspects of gas exploration (seismic acquisition, site selection, construction, drilling and completion, well start-up, production and release) are regulated by a combination of federal, state and local agencies. As shown in the “Governors Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Report,” these regulations involve more than eleven federal, state and local organizations – each with its own regulations and bureaucracy.
The complexity of this structure makes understanding the regulations difficult, and it leaves open opportunities for problems to “drop between the cracks.” It also creates both unnecessary expense and time delays. These problems could be avoided by establishing a state-level organization – a single focal point – with responsibility for overseeing the entire gas development process. If implemented, the sponsor of an exploratory project would complete a single application, and a single organization would have the responsibility for coordinating actions by everyone. The immediate benefits would be a faster, smoother, more cost-effective and safer administrative structure.
The thrust of the regulations must be revised to encourage on-going improvements. Current regulations focus on what can and cannot be done. They ignore focusing on what they are trying to achieve. A natural consequence is that operators are discouraged or prevented from introducing technological advances that could improve the processes and profitability. The existing regulatory structure should be reviewed and revised to focus on intent. Operators should be encouraged to innovate and to implement advances that satisfy the intent rather than the word of the regulations
Gas exploration in some portions of the state is subject to additional regulations imposed by interstate commissions, e.g., the Susquehanna River Basin Commission or the Delaware River Basin Commission. These organizations set their own regulations and administrative structures, sometimes ignoring explicit agreements that they have with the states. This can result in problems that damage both the state and its regulations. As an example, the Delaware River Basin Commission is holding Northeast Pennsylvania hostage because it has established a moratorium on gas exploration pending issuance of revised regulations and supporting procedures. They have been unable to develop these regulations despite two years of work and they have no published timetable for getting closure.
Pennsylvania and its residents are being hurt and the Corbett Administration has the responsibility to take strong action that will force closure.
Local communities bear the burden of natural gas exploration. Their physical and human infrastructures must deal with the sudden growth of new industry, influx of workers, displaced residents, emergency services, etc. While some portion of the new fee structure is allocated for localities, that does not go far enough. Studies at Penn State have shown that communities that plan for change are more likely to be successful than those that just let it happen. The Corbett Administration has an obligation to make sure that there are community plans building on the opportunities provided by natural gas exploration.
All of the above suggestions are straightforward. They can be implemented quickly and yield significant benefits. Most significantly, they are a structure for on-going sustainability and responsible growth of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas efforts and economy.
Mike Uretsky is retired Professor at NYU, where he was also Co-Director of the Center for Advanced Technology. He served on a Department of Energy Task Force charged with proposing energy policies that would take the country to 2050.
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