I must confess that I attended the "Gas Symposium" hosted by the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce with a fairly closed mind. After all, isn't the integrity of our water supply more important than all those dollar signs that everyone is so excited about?
At least, that was what I was thinking. I can't say that I am 100% convinced because the danger will always exist that an accident can happen. Private wells have already been contaminated in the highly-publicized event in Dimmock, Pennsylvania. My understanding is that Cabot Oil has not taken full responsibility for the damage done either. If you can't have water, clean water, your home is worthless.
However, I learned a few new things at the symposium about the process itself, the economic impact and land reclamation that have allayed some of my earlier fears. A representative from Chesapeake Energy gave an in-depth presentation covering these aspects as well as some others:
- Gas-drilling is not new to New York, in fact was begun back in the mid 1800's.
- The Marcellus Shale deposit is possibly the largest deposit of natural gas in the world. After the oil fileds of Saudi Arabia, the Marcellus Shale deposit is the second largest fuel source in the world.
- There is enough natural gas here to last 100 years of production.
- The economic and fiscal impact would be beneficial as a new revenue stream which is much more desireable compared to increased taxes or cuts in benefits and services.
- The gas companies do not have the power of eminent domain.
- Oil and gas exploration and production is heavily regulated under a stringent system of federal, state and local laws.
- The gas is extracted from beds that are generally 1-2 miles below the earth's surface. In contrast, nealry all potential drinking water is found generally 500 feet or less below the earth's surface. The water table therefore, is protected by thousands of feet of rock.
- Natural gas is one of the cleanest and most abundant fuels available today.
- Drilling of domestic gas reduces our county's need for foreign oil.
Of course, one of the biggest questions is 'how will this affect land and home values'? The answer is 'no one knows'. A local credit union refuses to write mortgages for any property with a gas or oil lease on it regardless of whether the rights convey or not. They see it as a lean upon the property.
Another issue is simply the availability of land for sale. I have a buyer who has no interest in gas drilling but simply wants to build his dream house. There are few parcels available and we are having a fit finding some thing suitable.
Right now, there is a moratorium on drilling until things get straightened out. You can read more here:
Lots of good information and upcoming events related to the Marcellus Shale gas drilling: