Gov Wolf, Why Cripple Main Growth Industry In Pennsylvania?

Gov. Wolf, my family is a natural gas industry family.  Both my wife and I are employed at companies directly benefitting from the rich deposit of Marcellus Shale with which Pennsylvania has been blessed.  We’re born and raised in this state, and instead of having to move for rewarding, family-sustaining jobs, we were able to stay in Western Pennsylvania mainly because of the shale industry moving in.  I know I’ve found my passion, and that’s working with the shale industry.  I work every day in communities that have been revived, helping companies continue to be great neighbors by controlling sound emissions.  It is rewarding and exciting at the same time.

 

Your desire to smack the industry with a crippling severance tax and new regulations as outlined in Chapter 78 will hurt my family’s chance of succeeding and staying in our home state.  It would be a shame if my generation of industry worker was forced to leave and take along our child and future generation to benefit other states more accepting of a well-regulated, well-run gas and oil industry.  Yes, it’s true that the Marcellus Shale formation and gas isn’t going anywhere.  I’ve heard that talking point from you and other tax supporters.  But the industry will leave to a large degree if you make the business climate hostile.  Make no mistake about it.  There are shale formations across the country and the world and many with far better infrastructure in place and governments that support industry development.  Don’t cripple my family’s chances at succeeding, Gov. Wolf.  Help us to stay in the area where we are from and the area we know and love.

Advertisements

Fracking IS Safe: A Rebuttal Letter To Editor

I felt compelled to answer a recent letter, “Fracking isn’t safe and has not been proved to be” and question claims made by the author.

The letter mentions numerous first person meetings with people that have lost lives, livestock and had families torn apart all from shale drilling and fracturing in the region.  These are a few of the more outrageous claims.  I do agree with the author that these folks deserve to tell and share their stories…but where are they?  Not the out-of-town activists coming to town to tell their stories, where are these actual victims?  Where is this barren, fractured wasteland?  I have had firsthand experience in the industry, having been on numerous sites in the tri-state region.  I have not seen nor read about people losing their lives due to drilling in the area, nor have I seen or heard of mass die-offs of animals from fracturing.  I have seen small towns revived, residents provided with new, family sustaining jobs, farms and fracking coexisting together and more.  Is the industry perfect or mistake-free?  No, no industry or process can be fool proof.  Even solar and wind energy have their own issues and are not capable of seriously maintaining and powering our current standards of life alone.  But drilling and fracking is occurring safely and responsibly in the tri-state region, has been and will continue to be done that way, too.

Far from being a fractured wasteland, we’re living in a region making a comeback having learned lessons from past industry mistakes. We’re playing a key role in a nation becoming more energy secure.

Gov. Wolf, You’re Killing My Job Opportunities in PA…

Governor Wolf, you’re hurting my chances to find a new oil and gas industry job.  You see, Gov. Wolf, the natural gas industry is already under pricing pressure and cost cuts, which resulted in my layoff from a services company involved in shale work. The industry is also being hit by federal, state and local actions, not to mention the protestors playing fast and loose with the facts on drilling and fracturing.  Adding your campaigned -on, ill-advised severance tax at this period in time is a very poor decision, one which will hurt industry job seekers like myself and local communities that rely on workers to keep their coffers full.  It’s a chain reaction, one that will hurt workers, gas companies, service companies, hotels and restaurants, local communities and more.  I love working in the shale field, having found my true passion after years of looking.  It’s been wonderful having a fair paying, fulfilling industry job and seeing many of my neighbors and community members joining the shale job ranks as well.  Despite what some may say, these days many jobs are being filled by regional workers like myself.  The jobs were there for those that wanted them.  Your tax, supposedly to fund schools, will ensure many of us that have been laid off won’t be called back.  Dreaming that taxing one industry to make up for all state education budget shortfalls, one that has brought hope to so many for the first time in years, is short-sighted.  I still hope a compromise can be reached and your tax won’t completely drive out the natural gas industry and all the community benefits we provide, but I’m disheartened.  Please don’t cripple my chance at another oil and gas job in my home state, Gov. Wolf.  Keep the business and comeback story being written in many local communities moving forward.

War of the Worlds Over Mars Fracking

There’s a war going on over Mars fracking – Mars, PA – where carpetbagger dirty tricks outfits financed by the Heinz Endowments, et al are creating chaos.

My community is under fractivist attack. It’s a war of the worlds, if you will, over fracking – Mars fracking. It’s taken some time, but it’s at my door. You see, I live in the community right beside the Mars Area School District, where drilling permits were legally issued for drilling to occur within two-thirds of a mile from the Mars campus.

A vocal parents group against drilling popped up, which in turn has led to the usual cast of out-of-area professional fractivists coming to town. I’ve been noting all the local press stories, online postings and community meetings they are holding…and the stunning lack of facts present at these said meetings.

Majority of Martians Not Involved In Mars Fracking War 

I have a direct link this in this saga…I have family members attending and living in the Mars school district, not to mention numerous friends and their children. I hear what the silent majority is saying, what the press doesn’t report. The majority of folks are for the drilling and lament the loss of millions of dollars the school district passed up when they chose not to lease their land. A youth home needing the funds that drilling would have generated had the misfortune of being located right beside the school, thus losing out on their opportunity to benefit as well.

mars fracking

The majority of people remain silent, however, not wanting to become targets of the opposition groups and their out-of-area friends. It’s frustrating and maddening, especially to someone like myself who has been involved in the industry and has personally witnessed how safe, responsible drilling has re-energized large parts of western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.

How About Taking a Tour of Mars Fracking Before Condemning It?

I’d like to issue a challenge to the local parents group in Mars that’s fought tooth and nail against these permits and drilling. Get in your fossil-fueled cars or rent a bus and road trip around western Pennsylvania. Drilling is safely occurring all around you. There are, in fact, wells and active drilling not more than 6 miles from my bustling community of Cranberry Township (your backyard) with no outcry. Why? Because it’s been occurring without a problem. Not one. It’s not noticeable or intrusive.

I would be willing to bet a large majority of my neighbors don’t even know it’s happening. Take that rented bus tour and stop at local places like Cross Creek Park, where there are 33 wells in the park and another 20 that run deep underneath it. The water has been heavily tested for years without one problem as recent publications noted. Visit and speak to other local schools that took the time to learn the actual facts on drilling and fracking and are now being able to finance numerous programs, learning equipment and more with the income generated from drilling on their lands.

I challenge these local groups to step away from the out-of-town activists and visit, learn and speak with the numerous successful operations and arrangements taking place all around you. Open your eyes to the successes taking place in the larger community surrounding you, if you head in with an open mind, I believe you will be surprised.

Time To Stand Up For Drilling; Engage And Involve Regional Residents

This morning, I came upon Platts author Rodney White’s bit of departing advice to the oil/gas industry here in Appalachian shale fields, where he and I both live.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the brief piece, please check it out here.  It will make the rest of my entry make more sense as to the direction I’m going with my thoughts.  And these are my thoughts.  I don’t claim to be an expert in all things drilling, fracturing and to what related companies are doing in the region.  However, I do have a very good idea what is happening, my finger closely on the pulse of activity in the region and up until a few weeks ago, I was in the field almost daily, seeing activity of all sorts firsthand.

Mr. White’s comments rang very true to me, and I’m with him 100% in that we have a very precious opportunity in the tri-state area with the Utica and Marcellus shales that we cannot let get away from us.  These regions are now contributing a vital new source of clean-burning natural gas to power us in to the future.  As production rises, emissions have lowered and the air quality, once so hurt by regional coal burning, are steadily improving.  These are facts that cannot be denied despite what some antis might want to say.  The local residents are seeing jobs come back to areas so depressed after the collapse of the steel and coal markets.  Kids are able to stay in the area versus moving away for work.  They are seeing their towns revitalized, the corner stores and restaurants full and communities see their coffers more full with tax incomes that can fix the local playground, bridge, etc.  For anyone that hasn’t seen this rebirth, do yourself a favor and get out and see it for yourself.  It is happening, now, despite what some may claim.

With this rebirth and growth, there are some inherent issues that can make life a little more difficult for the region’s residents.  There is more traffic, more people coming in and out and more.  Local folks, not knowing all the facts, may also become concerned about what is exactly occurring to their land and town with the drilling and fracturing processes taking place to access the shales.  This is a major issue to me and again, these are my thoughts.  Like Mr. White, I feel the industry could be doing a better job in the communities where they work.  Certain companies do a very good job where they work, and it shows.  The educated, engaged and informed local groups they help to foster push back against the anti-fracking groups when they come to town.  To a large degree, the antis tend to be outsiders.  An informed local groups of residents speak with a much larger voice than a group of outsiders trying to tell them what they should do with their lands.

We as an industry need to do a better job growing this educated and engaged group of residents in Appalachia.  We don’t have the history of drilling for gas/oil like one sees in Texas, Oklahoma and so on.  We need to explain to them exactly what we are doing, and the large majority of them will be accepting of the practices.  We’ve dealt with coal mining, steel and other heavy industries here over the years.  We want to be sure mistakes that occurred in the past with other industries aren’t repeated…I’ve seen creeks fouled because of shoddy coal mining practices.  It’s fair that we ask this doesn’t happen again with shale drilling and practices.  We can appreciate, and dare I say love, drilling and fracturing as many did with mining…in fact many like myself already do.

How does the industry do this you might ask?  I’m just one person…but I do have some thoughts.  As Mr. White noted, in general companies do an ok job.  Helping with the local fire departments, first responders along with others and donations are awesome and build goodwill.  But I’m thinking along different lines…let’s build up the region’s residents to become engaged and educated in what we are doing. For example, rent out the local hall or back area of a restaurant, serve some coffee and treats and bring in an engineer, drilling specialist, landman, completions manager and so on.  Spend an hour simply telling folks what to expect, what is going on, etc.  Plan a day every month where the locals can go on a supervised tour of the facilities in their town.  SHOW them what is going on, and back it up with the education from experts.  Keep them involved and engaged.  I’d also suggest spending time teaching your employees in the field about what is going on within the various process involved so they have basic knowledge to talk to others.  My wife’s company recently did this and the employees loved it.  All it took was one day of basic instruction from an expert.  That company now has a small army of loyal employees out in the community, speaking about what we really do as an industry, and how safe and responsible shale drilling and fracturing is in reality.  Also, take advantage of people like me…my family has lived in these hills for generations.  I’ve come to love, admire and really understand and believe in the oil/gas industry and what it is we do.  This is a passion for me, and there are a lot of people in the region just like me, waiting for a better chance to promote companies and the industry as a whole.  I created this blog, my Twitter account and the Tri-State Shale Network on my own as a platform from which to speak.  There are others just as anxious to talk out there without the right platform.  Find them, take advantage of the region’s residents who love our industry.  An informed and engaged region will not be swayed by the anti-fracking rhetoric that exists out there today.  And make no mistake, they are winning battles that can cause serious problems to our drilling in Appalachia in particular.  New York’s recent banning of fracturing is a perfect example of what can happen if we do not get a grip on this now.  The anti message is out there, and they do a good job spreading their half truth and distorted realities.

We need to get this right, fellow oil/gas friends.  We need to take the proper steps now by educating and involving our region’s residents more proactively.  This opportunity is too precious to waste.

Small Town Growth – Up Close & Personal

I still get a kick reading stories and comments by those against drilling and fracking, especially when they say it doesn’t create local jobs, prosperity and regional growth.  It makes me wonder how often they leave their cushy office settings, the cities they live in or if they live in the region, take the time to drive around an notice what is happening.  I always like to issue the challenge for them to actually visit towns like Cadiz, Ohio where I work several days per week.

Fracking and Farming together near Cadiz, Ohio

Fracking and Farming together near Cadiz, Ohio

The Eastern Ohio picture I see firsthand is one of much needed jobs and growth coming back, coupled with industry and environment coexisting together in a responsible fashion.  I don’t see, nor have a I ever seen, fracking wastelands and damage that the antis claim.  Instead, I see MarkWest building incredible new plants in the area to process the gases, oils and NGLS’s coming out of the ground.  It’s amazing, and the townsfolk I speak to almost daily approve and relish the opportunities coming back to their region after big coal and steel left.

New admin building going up in Cadiz now...will hire over 50 locals.

New admin building going up in Cadiz now…will hire over 50 locals.

I see new hotels going up for the workforce.  I see new convenience stores being built and car dealers selling more cars.  Restaurants being full and so on.  Local are getting jobs, and it’s keeping their kids in town with great paying jobs.  It truly is a re-birth of a region we are seeing.

New hotel going up in Cadiz, Ohio

New hotel going up in Cadiz, Ohio

Those against and claiming we need to ban fracking and drilling in the region need to visit areas like this firsthand.  They need to see and experience this rebirth for themselves and see it is a safe, responsible process.  Will they take the time to do so?  Probably not.  But if they will not take that time, at least don’t tell these folks how they should live or how they should use their land.  After all, who cares more for their land…those living in NYC or those actually here in the region?  Let them make the choice.

Fracking Is Saving Farming In Rural Pennsylvania

Over the last few years, area newspapers have been full of interesting stories on how the natural gas plays are affecting local communities here in Western Pennsylvania and the tri-state region in general.  Many are well done, but some capture the issue of how positively the area is being affected and also how little an environmental impact hydraulic fracturing and drilling are having on the land so well in a single article.  I recently came across a great piece showing both these FACTS in firsthand accounts from the farming community in Pennsylvania.  To read the piece, entitled Natural gas royalties open farm opportunities,  check out the link here.

One only needs to take a short drive out to the countryside and speak to the farming community to see the industry working in a very safe, responsible manner while giving back to the community at the same time.  In my role, I get to travel out to these sites, see the towns and regions up close and talk to the folks to see how they are dealing with the Marcellus/Utica shale booms.  What irks me is that the anti-fracking movement, if they chose to, could easily leave their desks and keyboards and see this rebirth of rust belt towns up close and personal as well.  They’d get to speak with farmers like those interviewed in the article…farmers that have active drilling, producing wells and yes, fracking operations on their scared land.  They would learn that royalty payments have saved numerous farms in families for generations from bankruptcy and sale.  They would see the new equipment, new barns and upgrades only made possible by the infusion of shale gas funds in to the community.  And most importantly, the anti crowd could see firsthand that our rural areas are a far cry from being a “fracking wasteland.”  After all, who else protects their lands, crops and animals more than a farmer whose livelihood and family depend that very land itself?  Would the agricultural community in Pennsylvania and the tri-state allow their lands to be destroyed as the anti crowd suggests occurs all over the area?  I think that question is answering itself, and it’s being played out every day when the industry and farming community work together to better each others future and in a larger view, the country’s energy future overall.

So I challenge the anti crowd to leave their desks and offices.  Get out in to the rural communities and simply talk to the residents first hand.  You might be shocked by what you see and hear.  Are all things perfect?  No, they never are…traffic increases, new folks move in to the community and towns grow. But these are not bad things.  They represent safe, manageable growth.  That’s something that hasn’t been seen out here for a long time…and we’re happy it back in a responsible manner.

unnamed

Shale Jobs Going More and More Local

Just read a great piece on more and more shale jobs going to Ohioans versus out-of-staters.  It’s a well written and researched article talking about core and ancillary shale positions, and how more and more jobs are going to locals as they train for an industry that’s new to the region.  This is literally the same path the state of Pennsylvania followed when the Marcellus Shale play took off…it’s truly time the anti-fracturing crowd drop this feeble argument of residents in the shale plays not getting the jobs.  It’s simply not true and rings hollow to those of us out here experiencing the growth firsthand.

I’ve had the opportunity to witness both the Marcellus and Utica plays emerge and take-off by actively working in communities and fields for my job.  I’ve seen towns go from down and out to booming within a year.  Have there been growing pains?  Of course.  At times, the traffic is a pain.  Roads get beat up, but this industry fixes and betters existing roads more than the actual state in many instances.  Prices tend to rise (but here’s my tip to biz owners…offer hometown discount to folks you know) on housing, at convenience stores, and more.  However, the many local folks I deal with are more than happy with the new jobs, growth and opportunity that shale gas development brings.  They are ok with the traffic if their son or daughter is able to stay in the region with a family supporting great job.  They can deal with the roads being worked on if their brother or cousin has a brand new career and solid work hours with the local trucking company now growing in town due to shale gas companies in the region.  The locals see the ancillary companies hiring as many residents as want quality jobs.  It truly is a great thing to see firsthand.

Anti-fracturing friends, leave your desks or city dwellings and come out here to see things for yourself.  There are as many jobs for locals as they want.  Yes, some of the hours are long, the work tough and you must be able to pass a drug test…but the jobs are here.

Drillers Recycling Water? It’s Nothing New To Those In The Field

The recent AP piece on regional drillers and their declining use of water for drilling/fracking processes really comes as no surprise to those of us in the industry.  In fact, my first thought after reading it was “tell me something I don’t know.”  I am glad to see this word finally getting out, however, because this another area where we as an industry could do a better job explaining how much water we really use when compared to other practices out there, and the increasing number of companies recycling water for reuse.

Contrary to what has been written the last few years, companies drilling in Pennsylvania like Range Resources and Cabot Oil & Gas have been recycling 100% of their water for several years.  This isn’t a secret…it’s been happening for some time.  It’s a shame if a large part of the general public is just learning this fact now.  The industry recycling water doesn’t fit the standard anti narrative that drillers are wasting and using so much water that drought conditions are near for a community near you.  That’s just not the case.  As the numbers in the article show, much less freshwater is needed these days due to recycling and advances in technology.  And no matter how the general press may want to play it, that’s a good thing for the industry.  It’s something we must shout from the rooftops and make sure the communities in which we operate understand.

I’ve been able to see these processes firsthand, starting with the monitored withdrawal of freshwater out of rivers and streams, the treatment process and ending when sent out for reuse in new wells.  It’s a well regulated process from what I have witnessed.  Every drop of water must be accounted for in each one of these steps, and an attitude of safety pervades with every worker you meet.  In fact, each and every time an outsider to the process sees it for the first time, the remarks are always about all the safety measures built in to the processes.  It shouldn’t be a surprise, but from what people read, they tend to think we operate like we’re in the Wild West.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I challenge those against what we do to actually visit the fields.  Get out of your offices and walk in our shoes, see what we see and hear.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

unnamed

Where’s The Epidemic of Sick Energy – Industry Workers and Townsfolk?

The recently released Yale study saying residents living close to natural gas wells in SW PA are more likely to report respiratory illnesses and skin problems than normal could not be further from reality when looked at in objective fashion.  “Studies” like these drive an industry worker like myself crazy…it’s so far removed from what I see on a day-to-day basis that I feel the need to share the facts as I see them.  If you haven’t read the study or seen how Yale comes to their conclusions, click here to view their spin.  My goal is to simply share what I see, hear and experience on a daily basis in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.  It differs so much from what the Yale folks and other media outlets say that I wonder how many of them have ever visited a drilling site or a community where drilling and hydraulic fracturing are taking place for a firsthand experience.  Not many have, that is for certain.

4

View Out Back…Wells Flaring and Drill Rig

Where I work daily, I’m surrounded by wells in various states.  Some are being drilled, others are being fractured and flared, while still more are producing natural gas and liquids.  I would guess that within a 5 mile radius of my workplace (and fellow workers), the residents of the town and others there are upwards of 20+ wells in to the Utica and Marcellus shales.  As the pictures in my piece here show, many are within that “magical” one mile distance the Yale study considers the zone of higher nosebleeds, breathing troubles and red skin rashes.  I can unequivocally state that I, nor any of my fellow workers here, or the men I see on these sites for that matter have any problems like this with their health.  If the distance-from-a-well study was indeed, true, how come there isn’t an industry-wide epidemic of rashes, breathing problems and nosebleeds?  Have you read about that?  Have you seen it if you work on or are around the sites?  I sure have not.  The residents of the town have not complained of these problems, either, nor has the local hospital seen a run on services or some mystery with tests on townsfolk blood over the last few years.  Simply put, it is not true.  If it were, it would be showing up in glaring fashion.  Disclaimer, I am not a scientist, but I do have common sense.  I can tell you what I see and experience firsthand over the years as noted…and it’s a radically different view that the antis would like the general public to believe.

IMG_0134

Side View…Markwest Plant Over Hill

This leads me to my final thought…and it’s one I have shared before on this forum.  As an industry, we need to do a better job sharing what is truly happening in the communities where we work and live.  Our employees can be our best advocates, after all, who knows better than they do what happens in the field and on the front lines?  Encourage them to share information with their friends, family and press.  Lead by example, reach out to the local community and media as a company.  Let’s share the great, uplifting things we see every day with the public at large and keep this energy revolution moving forward.

888888888888

Even Local Sheep Live With Drilling and Fracturing