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Marcellus Shale

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Ok, so straight forward question.

I went to High School in McKean county PA (think Kendal & Quaker State).  I started working in the oil fields when I was 14 during the summer and on weekends.

We were fracking oil wells at the time.

Is today's fracking different then the early to mid 80's?  

Not that I have not smelled crude oil in well water before (granted that was from bad casings on an old well).

How deep is the gas layer?  The oil sands where I worked ranged from about 800 feet to 2500.

Or is it just then number of wells being put in that the errors are stacking up?

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The roads here are similar to what you described. In some places efforts are made to repair the roads, but within a short period of time they are impassable again.

Are you going to the SxS shoot this year? I missed it last year because I was on my way to Michigan to pick up my pointer pup. I'm planning on going.

Clint, leave a parking spot in the driveway open.

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ANF grousin
The roads here are similar to what you described. In some places efforts are made to repair the roads, but within a short period of time they are impassable again.

Why dont I see those problems around here where they put in shale wells on township or SF rodes?  The road problem is caused by the roads never being maintained properly.  Go around and take an honest assesment, you'll find most roads used by shale trucks are in better shape then before they arrived.

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L. Gallagher

Same here. The dirt roads are in great shape, they have to be to get all that equipment in there. The highways leading to those roads, however, are shot from the weight of all those trucks on asphalt that contracts and expands constantly with the weather. And the county road commissions here have no money to fix them-they don't get any of that tax money in Michigan-they just get gas taxes and registration fees, both of which are in decline.

Problem with the dirt gas roads here is that there's just too damn many of them. It's turning what's left of our wild lands in a lot of areas into gas fields.

Fracking's been done for a long time. Too many people assume it's a new practice. It's not, I'm told. Apparently, the issue with the deep fracking is concerns regarding the chemicals they use, and the extreme pressures that the fracking is done under.

On the Utica/Collingwood, they're drilling from 9000 to 12000 feet, I'm told. Depends on the well.

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Dave Gowdey

Fracking for Natural Gas is a different kettle of fish from injecting fluids to reinvigorate oil wells.  That has been done for a long time.  The kind of fracking they're doing now for natural gas I was told has only been around for about thirty years.  

The problem is that natural gas is much lighter and more mobile in the rock structure, and much more likely to contaminate water and wells when put under pressure. Most of the problems out west are with wells contaminated with methane, not oil.  These are the ones where you can light the water on fire.  

While it may be possible, I've not heard of any of the natural gas companies doing road repair or reconstruction on public roads  - they pretty much limit themselves to maintaining the vast network of dirt roads they put in.   The damage to the roads are left for the taxpayer to repair.

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ANF grousin
While it may be possible, I've not heard of any of the natural gas companies doing road repair or reconstruction on public roads  - they pretty much limit themselves to maintaining the vast network of dirt roads they put in.   The damage to the roads are left for the taxpayer to repair.

Might want to check again.  In Pa, any roads they mess up must be restored to what they were before the drilling started.  There are many areas drilling companies went in proactively and rebuilt roads well above specs before their trucks started to roll.  But if the road was a POS to start with, the drilling companies are not required to repair above the original POS the originally encountered.

Also remember, trucks used for drilling operations must abide by all laws regulating the weight of the truck.  They arent coming in with trucks twice the legal limit ripping up the roads.

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For those who are interested, quite a few respected hunting and fishing-focused conservation orgs are involved:

Izaak Walton League

New York State Trappers Association

Quality Deer Management Association

Pennsylvania Forest Coalition

The Wildlife Society

Theodore Gordon Flyfishers


Trout Unlimited


The Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation (Sportsmen Alliance) is a coalition of sportsmen and women working together to identify and propose solutions to mitigate the impacts caused by gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale on hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor sporting activities.

Sportsmen's Alliance for Marcellus Conservation

"In the Eastern United States, energy companies are targeting the largest known shale gas formation in the nation, one that underlies 54,000 square miles in parts of several states. Gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region is occurring or is being planned at a very fast pace. Over time, thousands of wells are expected to be drilled in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Ohio.

Marcellus Shale gas deposits are accessed using a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing (also known as hydrofracking) is a process used to create fractures that extend from the well bore into a tight rock formation, allowing gas to travel readily from the rock pores to the production well.

A mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped in high volumes under high pressure into the shale to create the fractures.

States in the Marcellus Shale region are quickly trying to put regulations in place to address the potential impacts from the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Even with the best environmental standards in place, the immense number of wells projected to be drilled in the Marcellus Shale is likely to have a cumulative impact on the region's wildlife and coldwater fisheries, that will

in turn affect hunters and anglers and the recreational economies built upon these sporting traditions. For these reasons, sportsmen and women from across the Marcellus Shale region are coming together to identify and propose solutions to mitigate the impacts from gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing on hunting, fishing and trapping experiences."


June 4, 2011

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Johnstown, PA

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Don Steese

I've written extensively about this topic. It's complicated. I just attended a presentation for outdoor writers by some industry folks. Went into it knowing that I was only going to get one side. We did.

Here are some of the opposing points.

We need energy and there's no perfect way to get it that'll please everyone. People don't like wind power, hydro power, nuke power, coal power, oil and gas drilling, and even solar panels on your roof are said to bring down property values in your neighborhood. What is one do do??

We've had gas drilling in north central PA for many years. Shallow wells that are drilled straight down. While these may seem safer than the current hydro-fracked wells, the fact is they are much less productive and the footprint on the landscape is, therefore, much much bigger.

New York is allowing no drilling until they can come up with a set of  satisfactory regulations. We in Pennsylvania didn't seem to think that was really necessary.

PA. is the only state that allows natural gas hydro-fracking without some sort of extraction tax or fee. There's little doubt that the energy companies would pay it as we're sitting on one of the biggest, if not the biggest, find ever.

There's little doubt that this gas boom has brought economic development to an area that really needed it. However it doesn't come without a price. When Irish Joe says he knows a small cover where we're sure to find some grouse and when we get there there's a well where the cover used to be, the impact of this thing becomes very evident.

This kind of thing is going to bring people into an area. People who pay taxes and spend money. That's good for the local economy, but if you're not involved on one of the businesses who directly benefit and are not one of the landowners who get royalty payments, and you can't find a quiet place to take your wife to dinner on Saturday night, you're not likely to feel very welcoming to your new neighbors.

I, for one, don't think we can put a stop to this gas drilling boom, nor do I think we should. However, I also don't think we need to let the energy companies run roughshod over the landscape and do anything they damned well please, as many argue we've done here in Pennsylvania. I also feel that we need some sort of  statewide severence tax or fee so that all Pennsylvanian's can benefit. The argument you'll get from the companies is that any tax or fee should be levied on a local basis, because local municipalities are the ones being directly affected. I don't think I agree. We could actually do both, as long as we don't go to extremes and make it too expensive for the companies to extract the gas, which is highly unlikely.

Natural gas is one of the cleanest energy sources we have when compared to coal,oil, etc. It's also the easiest to get to the consumer. Virtually no refining is necessary. Just drill, fill a pipeline, and pipe it into people's homes.

As I said...it's complicated.

Hope this has made at least a little sense. I ain't the brightest bulb in the light fixture.

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In many places here the repair of the roads is the responsibility of the gas company, who in-turn, contract that repair out. The problem arises because the repair crews are too few and far between. With the very wet spring we have had, many of the dirt/gravel roads are impassable by everyday vehicles. The blacktop roads that are runined tend to be repaired at a faster rate.

Don, I agree that there is no easy answer, but in my opinion PA has done it all wrong. As soon as the gas companies flashed those dollars, Pennsylvanians (private and state) sold their soul without a thought for the future. New York is sitting back, watching and getting all their ducks in a row before they allow drilling.

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Great post Don, thanks for weighing in.  As they say, for every difficult problem there's an easy answer.  Which is wrong.

My greatest concern and reason for giving a damn is because I think it's wrong for big business, in this case the gas companies, to run rough-shot over the backs of the people and the environment.  We all talk about how great Teddy Roosevelt was at preserving natural resources for future generations.  Well what does it matter if we, as citizens, sell those resources down the river because the economy sucks, there's money to be made and the cost of gas makes it seem like there's no other option?   In 30 years or whenever these companies will be gone, what will the State of Pennsylvania have to show for it?  Aside from another legacy of environmental destruction?

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ANF grousin

Pa knew this play on shale wells was coming long before it got here, it didnt magically appear over night.  Local producers were waiting for equipement and tecnology to arrive, while the out of state producers had to line up the contracts and get their equipment up here.  If there is any blame, it is with the elected officials in both parties who ignored this, while looking for ways to keep the bloated government running under Rendell.  To this day, DEP is the most useless government agency around.  They have no idea who owns many shallow wells in this state.  Can't have oversight if you dont know what wells belong to which company.

Taxes.... everyone wants someone elses money.  Shale producers are paying around $10 million a/year for permits.  That sure puts a lot of inspectors on the ground, if the money is truely being spent where it's supposed to go.  The big players in the gas/oil business have no problem with a severance tax, its the little producers who are complaining the most, as they have the most to lose.

Everyone talks about Pa being the only state with no severance tax.  But we are also the state with the highest corporate tax of all the gas producers.  Maybe we can drop the rate on one tax when we add the other so we can be equal to all those other states we look up to.

My problem with the severance tax is it will be applied to an already bloated government.  Pa has pissed away money like there was no tomorrow and it has caught up with us now.  Why should the gas producers be the one to pay to keep a bloated government floating.  Taxes will be collected, spent on more government projects and in 10 years the severance tax wont be enough and it will be raised again.  Anyone remember the tax on alchohol that was put on to pay for the damage of the Johnstown flood?  Yep, we are still paying that tax today.

Everyone likes to point a finger at gas wells and the potential pollution.  But PennDot puts more salt in our best trout streams every winter, then gas wells could ever do, yet no one is worried about that.  **** plants are the biggest polluters of our streams, yet they get a free pass.  So why dont we push to end all pollution of our streams, or do we just look to where we can get the most tax dollars by vilifying that industry and giving everyone else a free ride?

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Kansas Big Dog

Here is something to consider when talking oil and gas production and wildlife.  Many would consider Texas one of the premiere destinations for hunting and fishing (when they get rain).  They are also the largest, by far, producers of oil and gas in  the US.

Kansas is the 10th leading producer of gas, much more production than PA is producing now (PA is 12th).  How is the hunting and fishing in KS?

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drummer's stump
 Many would consider Texas one of the premiere destinations for hunting and fishing (when they get rain).  

hahahahahhahahaha holyshiiiiiiiiit ahahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahahahhahahaahha

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