Investigating the US Gas Boom

I know many of you are becoming very aware of the natural gas boom happening in the Mid Atlantic area. This video covers some old ground but it also discusses some very current issues and is a great intro for anyone who is trying to learn about the problems with the fracking process.

A Pennsylvania resident’s thoughts on natural gas

Below are some thoughts and sentiments of a fellow concerned PA resident in regards to the above article. She wishes to remain anonymous but I felt her thoughts were worth copying down here.

“If Cabot has proof that the wells had methane issues BEFORE the drilling commenced, well, show us the data. See, baseline water quality testing works both ways.  But if there weren’t prior problems, then it defies logic that the drilling didn’t have something to do with it when big problems popped up (heck, blew up) AFTER the drilling.
The proper response of a responsible drilling company would not be to deny it on high like Cabot did.  It would have been to admit that something unexpected happened and to aggressively investigate it using their technical experts.  That is the scientific approach.  After all, how many experiments haven’t turned out exactly as you planned, yet analysis of the failure helped you design a better approach?  Unfortunately here, the “experiment” impacts a precious commodity– drinking water.”

I feel that the above concept (trying something new, experimenting, and then when it doesn’t work out right, correcting it to make it better) shouldn’t be so difficult to adhere to any viable business plan. The problem seems to be that so many corporate industries (another good example would be the food industry) chooses to attempt to change laws and regulations instead of fixing their system when it doesn’t work. AND they spend millions of dollars doing this when it almost seems that they could spend less money long-term by just figuring out what actually works.
“One theory is that there are prior existing natural faults in the Marcellus that are allowing more migration than expected.  Have the geologists take a closer look!  But then there has to be some ruling that prevents drilling in areas that have this type of pre-existing geology that can cause problems.
It is only because the PA DEP put pressure (& fines) on Cabot that Cabot was willing to do anything to help remedy these people’s water problem.
The Binghamton Sun & Press Bulletin carried an AP story months earlier that touched on this “Appalachia” theme.  That story pointed out that the Dimock people were some of the first to sign leases (at much lower rates, ~ $50 – $250 / acre).  They have received very little money or royalties from this (contrary to Gov. Rendell’s claim).  What little money they have received has been spent (& then some) trying to remedy the water issues now.  That was in contrast to a land owners association just across the NYS line from Dimock.  They & NYS have slowed it down, to try investigating the claims & potential problems and maximize benefits.
It is apparent that the industry will not change without pressure.  Pardon the pun there.  And as the article points out below, they can’t get away with mistakes or accidents here on the East coast like they think they have out west because of our higher population density.
That’s why I was so alarmed when the Fortuna representative said, “Hey that’s the way we do the operations, and if you don’t like that, well then tough, because we aren’t going to change the way we do it.”