New Castle News

Marcellus Shale

November 21, 2012

Our Opinion: Expanded shale drilling operations will have an impact

NEW CASTLE — Until recently, the local impact of shale gas drilling has been mostly a theoretical, what-if discussion.

But as drilling, hauling, pipeline construction and related activities expand in Lawrence County, the issue has a more immediate — and practical — impact.

As with many land use activities, shale drilling creates conflicts. While some county residents welcome the drilling, others are fearful or flat-out opposed to the consequences.

Let’s be clear: Any drilling operation can pose a nuisance to nearby residents. That’s especially so with shale operations, because of their scope and all that’s involved in drilling deep underground and injecting fluids into the earth.

While most of these impacts are temporary, and many well projects have been completed without longer-term consequences, that’s not always the case. Problems have arisen at some drilling sites around the country, ranging from explosions to fluid spills to contaminated water supplies.

There are risks associated with all forms of energy production. Coal mining endangers lives and stripping away layers of earth has significant environmental consequences. Drilling for oil deep under the ocean poses risks that became all too obvious two years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. Nuclear power has radiation risks. Even wind energy production raises concerns because of the dangers to birds and bats.

So the question becomes: How dangerous is shale gas production compared to other energy endeavors? All things considered, we think it represents an attractive option. And it represents a potentially huge economic potential for this community and region.

Of course, that assessment may not fly with someone whose water well has been ruined or life has been otherwise disrupted by a problem. And the potential concerns of a well drilled in one’s neighborhood is far different than one located hundreds of miles away.

This is why it’s in everyone’s interest — particularly drillers and government officials — to take every reasonable precaution against negative impacts from shale gas operations. Problems inevitably produce public opposition. And opposition creates a political force that could lead to efforts to restrict drilling.

Right now in Pennsylvania, there is virtually no local control or regulation over shale drilling. State law puts that power in the hands of Harrisburg.

The lack of local input on drilling decisions has the effect of speeding up the process. But if things go wrong in communities, and there is no mechanism for giving residents or local officials a voice, the current streamlined process could backfire.

We see significant potential for Lawrence County related to shale drilling. And the best way to ensure this potential is realized is to avoid problems and conflicts. As for those that do arise, they need to be addressed and resolved as quickly and openly as possible.


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Marcellus Shale
  • gavel.jpg Anti fracking group waits for answer to its letter

    More than 20 state environmental groups are asking that March 25 and 26 hearings on proposed “forced pooling” be postponed. They say more time is necessary to allow members of the public to voice their opinions.

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  • Hilcorp_Energy.jpg DEP seeks extra hearing, more room

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  • Hilcorp_Energy.jpg Hilcorp seeks to force drilling on reluctant landowners

    A hearing has been set on a request to force local landowners to allow gas and oil drilling. Hilcorp Corp., a Texas firm with multiple well pads in the area, is asking for the so-called “forced pooling.”

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • shale.tiff Commission reviews 11 well pad plans

    As Marcellus and Utica shale drilling continues and pipelines are laid, plans are in place for more well pads locally. The Lawrence County Planning Commission reviewed land development plans Tuesday for 11 sites for well pads, which are where the drilling rigs are set up.

    December 12, 2013 1 Photo

  • pipe.tiff Natural gas pipeline webs being spun through area

    First of three parts: A few years ago, talk about Marcellus and Utica shales was about drilling and fracking. While drilling for natural gas is now prevalent locally and well pads are dotting the county’s horizon, focus is shifting to the digging for construction of pipelines to transport the gas from the drilling sites to areas throughout the middle and eastern United States.

    October 29, 2013 1 Photo

  • Natural gas program set at Westminster

    Pipelines and natural gas issues will be the subject of a program scheduled for Nov. 2 at Westminster College. The League of Women Voters of Mercer County and the Westminster College Environmental Programs are co-sponsoring the event featuring Dr. Roberta Winters of the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters.

    October 25, 2013

  • Meeting set on Marcellus drilling

    The League of Women Voters of Lawrence County will sponsor a panel discussion on Marcellus drilling on Tuesday. The discussion on drilling and property values will begin at 6:30 p.m. at New Wilmington Methodist Church, 125 S. Mercer St.

    March 23, 2013

  • SRU to host shale summit

    Slippery Rock University will host a summit Tuesday to educate local businesses about the Marcellus and Utica shale industry. The session, called Shale Summit II, will be a joint venture of the university, the Grove City Area and Butler County chambers of commerce and WISR/WBUT radio.

    March 14, 2013

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    February 25, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Seismic testing to be discussed

    Seismic testing for Marcellus Shale will be discussed Tuesday in New Wilmington. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at United Methodist Church, located at the corner of South Mercer Street and Neshannock Avenue.

    February 21, 2013

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