RE: The New Black Gold (May 2011)
Your article on the Marcellus shale gas was a good article if you only look at the manufacturing potential. The real truth is, the local resident has more to lose than he has to gain. The hydraulic fracking that you described is the major problem. After fracking wells, natural gas has started bubbling out of nearby ponds and residential water supplies. Several weeks ago there was a failure of a well head during the fracking process. When the head blew off, the well gushed "toxic fracking liquid" for six days.
There is no one looking after the local residents. The energy companies came into the area knowing the extent of the resources underground, and then offered the landowners leases for $40 per acre. Later they were forced to increase this to $5,750 per acre until the gas companies got together and divided the area up among themselves. Now they make offers that they cancel when you are ready to sign. Then you are left to deal with the one company that has taken over your area (at their much lower price).
The residents see the local roads being destroyed, the traffic is beyond belief (most travel takes two to three times longer than in the past), the housing shortage is acute and there is high local inflation.
The employment has been a good thing for the area. Many local people have bought expensive trucks to service the energy industry as it was gearing up. Now the problem is the energy companies have had time to mobilize their large fleets of vehicles and the local people are being cut out of contracts and left with payments on trucks they cannot use.