Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Northeasterners who are digging deeper into their pockets to pay for firewood this season can add a new scapegoat to the roster of usual market forces: fracking.
A timber industry representative in New Hampshire said those hydraulic fracturing well sites in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation to suck natural gas out of the ground are using construction “mats” made of hardwood logs – think of the corduroy roads seen in sepia-toned photographs from the 1800s – to get heavy equipment over mucky ground, wetlands or soft soils.
That increased demand has crept down the chimney into fireplaces. Prices in parts of New England are averaging $325 a cord and can even push past $400 for a seasoned, delivered load. That’s anywhere from $50 to $75 more a cord than last year – or an increase of 18 to 23 percent.
Jasen Stock, executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, said it’s not just fracking sites that are hogging the logs. Pipelines and transmission wires have in the past three years ramped up the appetite for the perfect mat log: a hardwood trunk, 16 to 20 feet long and 8 to 10 inches in diameter.