Shale gas: What’s to come?

Lewayne Peterson built a pyramid home.

Washington, Pa., south of Pittsburgh, has had an explosion of economic activity.

Westminster College convenes a meeting every Tuesday night with various citizens.

Max Lindsey treats himself to a new pickup truck pretty regularly. His cousin is even more regular with his new vehicle — every six months to be exact.

The rolling hills of Greene County have one of Pennsylvania’s lowest unemployment rates but still have one of the state’s highest poverty rates.

And my co-worker Shirley has cashed in pretty nicely on her Lawrence County acres.

They live in Texas and in Pennsylvania. The connection for them all?

Shale gas.

If you think your life — positively or negatively — will be unaffected by the explosion of gas exploration that is gripping the country ...

Think again.

Today, The Vindicator begins an extensive and exhaustive look at America’s unprecedented natural-gas expansion. Think gold rush.

How much of a rush?

British Petroleum signed off on $331 million in one meeting last week for Trumbull County residents.

That much. That’s a lot of Sunrise Pizza.

Over the past six weeks, we’ve collected the stories of many people involved and affected by the gas.

Some of the work has been done by our staffers, Jeanne Starmack today, and Karl Henkel later this week.

And much of the work has been done via our partnership with Youngstown State University’s Students from that project partnered with two professors and Henkel for a trip to Texas two weeks ago.

The results of the Texas trip?

Trumbull’s $331 million is a trickle compared with what’s to come.

The city of Fort Worth alone has leased 11,000 acres of public land, including the airport and parks, for nearly $160 million in bonuses and royalties since 2005.

Neighboring Arlington averages $1.4 million each month in royalties for the public land it has leased. Arlington has so much money flowing into the city that it created the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, which sits on $70 million now and expects $200 million by year’s end. It funds projects for libraries, families, neighborhoods and more.

But it’s been at a cost.

Ron Gulla had 141 dream acres in Washington County, Pa. He had cleared 80 acres to raise beef and grow apples, pears and peaches. The first shale well opened on his land in 2005. He said that in 2006, his three-acre pond turned black. Water from the well site trickled into his pond. He sold his entire dream to the gas company that owned the well.

Kim McEvoy started losing her hair from arsenic levels in her well water in her Butler County, Pa., home.

The Texas stories come from approximately 5,000 square miles of shale.

Ohio is sitting on an estimated 95,000 square miles — 4,000 to 8,000 feet below our shoes. Much of it is along Ohio’s eastern border. In the center of that is us, with central proximity to interstates 80, 77, 76 & 79 and four airports.

Your life will be affected.

When the YSU folks finished up their work in Texas, I had one question for the boss:

Based on what you’ve seen the past five days, are you more comfortable or less comfortable with what’s to come here?

The answer: I don’t know.

Starting today and continuing Wednesday and beyond, The Vindicator will give you a chance to take good measure of what’s to come.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at He blogs, too, on

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