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Shale gas: What’s to come?



Published: Sun, April 1, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


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 NewsOutlet.org. 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 tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


Comments

1block50(128 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

How can you sell your future, your legacy, and your health on "I don't know"? Every oil and gas boom in our nation's history has been followed by a bust. Simple physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. With the coming gas glut, prices will collapse and so will the money from the wells. We never learn our lesson, even when history stares us in the face. If you gain something without working for it, the devil will eventually demand his due. If not from us, then from our children.

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2UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

$4 gas, predicted to hit $5 this summer. Obviously, the world market does not value our dollar anymore, who does as it is printed and tossed around with little value. Energy is in high demand as the Asian countries continue to outperform us.... the spoiled west. Our last chance here in this Valley where we sat idle and let our leaders lead us down the path to become a third world community, is the oil under our feet. And it is not of our doing that we are blessed.

And yet, we have all these Fractionist who claim to be educated and scientific as they heat their butts with NG and fill their tanks up with foreign oil. this is the mindset that has led us to economic collapse. No, the silent majority are fracking and reinvesting and hiring, and will create an energy stronghold like Texas. The rest of the socialist we will place them in the pipe ditches earning their entitled checks.

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3redeye1(4629 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

UticaShale It just amazes me that you have only been here for a few months and already you can see what our so-called leaders have done to this valley Its just a shame that the majority of people who have lived all their lives here can't see the same things. But its good to see that someone else has noticed what's going on Thank you

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4UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Redeye, don't thank me, the wife is from here, so I have been a part of YTown, albeit at a distance. Not to mention, I was selected to relocate up here to speak the truth and rally all of us to get on with production. This Valley, sold to the world, this Valley was the envy and powerhouse in steel production. Most locals here are conservative democrats, they were just hijacked by the entitled, freeloading liberals singing "we are the world............"
The entitled are the leaders here, they are entrenched in all the local government offices. They are University stagnating professors. Medical people, however, they are being defunded en masse. This is good, cause then the free enterprise leaders will rise again. But for now, we are doomed with the likes of Ryan, Hagan, Sammarone, Trafficanti, everyone basically slopping at the trough.

Thank God we have a second chance here with this oil, and fortunately the bums in office have no say so in the matter whatsoever. In Texas, we always had the business people watching that the politicians didn't get out of hand.

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