MDN Weekly Update – Apr 3, 2011

From time to time I hear from readers who say something along the lines of, “Hey Jim, I really like the news you deliver about Marcellus drilling, but lose the attitude and color commentary.” As you must know by now, I am an advocate of safe drilling. And those who disagree with my viewpoint get irritated by my occasional comments. They want “just the facts please.”

I honestly and truly don’t see any difference in what I do and what is written by mainstream media outlets. I’m just honest about my viewpoints and biases, while they pretend to be above the fray. Yet their bias comes through loud and clear in every article they write. They willfully ignore science and facts and instead color and shade their reporting to fit their preconceived viewpoints. I would argue (go ahead and laugh) that I do a better job of providing balance to both sides of the issue than many mainstream media outlets. I don’t cover up the problems when they happen. But I also shed light on the positive aspects of drilling. Try and find that in the pages of The New York Times.

Unfortunately, drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale by using hydraulic fracturing has become a political issue as much as a scientific one. I don’t believe you can separate the two. There is a philosophy and mindset on the part of many (not all) who oppose drilling that any fossil fuel is evil and the only solution to America’s long-term energy needs is so-called alternative energies (wind, solar, etc.). I think that viewpoint is not only naive, but dangerous to our country’s future.

When I read and repeat news coverage of drilling in the Marcellus, my approach is to “take you by the hand” and point out what I see—what things run through my mind. If I notice that in the newly released Energy Blueprint that the federal government claims they’ve delegated the right to regulate drilling to the states, I point out the inaccuracy of such a statement. Where do they get off!? Our citizenry has become ignorant of our country’s great history, including a Constitution which places severe limits on the federal government, granting states all rights not found in the Constitution. I realize that my rather traditional political viewpoint rankles some readers. So be it.

Let me be clear and open and honest: I value the viewpoints of those who disagree with me, and I’m happy to have you in the audience. I do not intentionally try to drive you away with my comments. I welcome an open debate about these issues. But you need to know that I am an advocate for safe drilling. This website is aimed people who want to know both sides of the debate, but in learning about it, appreciate my sometimes “snarky” remarks. I try to keep the snark to a minimum, but hey, sometimes I can’t help it. Smile

I hope that helps you understand where I come from. And now, a favor: If you have thoughts about the coverage MDN provides, please leave me a comment below. I figure if you’re reading this on a Sunday, you’re pretty hard-core on the topic of drilling in the Marcellus, and I would like to know from you, the most dedicated readers, what you like and don’t like. If you don’t like my commentary and comments, tell me. If you do, let me know! It will help guide me as I further develop this service.

Below you’ll find the “top 5” lists and this week’s calendar listings.

Happy reading,
Jim Willis, Editor

Five Most Viewed Stories This Week (Mar 27 – Apr 2)

  1. New Interactive Map Shows Marcellus Gas Wells in PA (3/29/11)
  2. Encana Abandons Two Non-Producing Marcellus Gas Wells in Luzerne County, PA (3/28/11)
  3. Township in Western PA Offered $4500 per Acre for Marcellus Drilling Lease (3/28/11)
  4. Comments from NY DEC Joe Martens on Timing of New Drilling Regulations – And an MDN Prediction (4/1/11)
  5. Anti-Drilling Protestors in PA Break the Law (Again), This Time Disrupting a Meeting (3/30/11)

Five Most Viewed Stories Two Weeks Ago (Mar 20 – Mar 26)

  1. Range Resources Settles Royalty Lawsuit from Landowners for $22 Million (3/23/11)
  2. Motives of Anti-Drilling Groups Exposed in NY Post Editorial (3/24/11)
  3. Maryland Governor Makes Surprise Visit to Allegany County, Shows Interest in Marcellus Drilling Using Alternative Method (3/22/11)
  4. U.S. Government Drags Feet on Issuing Pipeline Permits in PA, 150 Wells Sit Waiting (3/23/11)
  5. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)

Five Most Viewed Stories Last 30 Days (Mar 3 – Apr 2)

  1. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)
  2. New Interactive Map Shows Marcellus Gas Wells in PA (3/29/11)
  3. How Much is that Marcellus Shale Well Drilled on Your Property Actually Worth? (3/11/11)
  4. Has New York Already Missed the Marcellus Shale Drilling Boom? (3/9/11)
  5. Marcellus Shale Companies in Pennsylvania Looking to Fill Jobs and Contract with Local Businesses (4/29/10)

MDN Calendar (Apr 3 – Apr 9)


New York


West Virginia


  • Morgan

    I enjoy and use this site as a tool for not only information on drilling in my area,but also for information on investing in certain stocks along with rigzone and a few others… I like Marcellus news ,because it gives you a more in depth look at one particular region… You seem to be able to find news that slips by others radar and I know others appreciate that..
    I am sure many others are doing the same thing I am and they also view opinions from other sources… Most sources as you say are oil and gas people talking and they all seem to have a republican view on things… Down to the extreme yahoo financial boards ..
    I am a progressive , and pro drilling … , but it has gotten to the point on a few of these sites that can’t get off the blame the other guy game.. I am sure the Terse response your getting is from people who read the same things I am reading and they just want to hear news and make up their own opinion with out the added rhetoric…
    Again… I find the site to be for the most part “fair and balance”… unlike others who tout that and are far from it…. ,but a little poking from others should be expected when your commentary moves towards your views…

  • Awagbx

    Continue on with your comments and opinions – its the reader’s responsibility to read and then interpret what is being said. Most news stories today are 10% fact and 90% rhetoric. Regretfully many people don’t know the difference. keep up the good work

  • engineer77008

    A little snark can be a good thing sometimes. I see no harm in the other side sometimes getting a peek at how fed up and frustrated the oil & gas professionals and supporters are with a federal government and mainstream media that are so inept. The federal government represents a dangerous mix of three ingredients when it comes to energy; ignorance, arrogance and politics.

  • Dagwood1216

    Jim,,keep on doing what you are doing. It’s discouraging to pro-drillers, like me, to see all the negativity in the papers, for whatever reasons they are belly-aching about. Yeah, it is necessary to do this play the right way, taking all precautions as they, the drilling companies, can, but the end result is for the good of the country and our beautiful state of Pennsylvania, so let it happen. I especially dislike the Scranton Times-Tribune running all the drilling news under that Deep Impact banner like it’s a caution-radioactive logo. They are obviously biased and anti-drilling. Wish they had a staff writer who was pro-drilling. Thanks..Dagwood1216

  • Canardphil

    Keep up the fine work. Those of us who care to know both sides of the issue and want to make up our own mind sincerely appreciate what you do.

  • Multiflora123

    Hmmmmmmm……I wonder if the term “safe drilling” as it relates to Marcellus Shale is an oxymoron?

  • sane energy

    HI! I agree with your position and even if I weren’t I would still be extremely grateful to have access to all the information being published regarding Marcellus Shale gas. Have you thought of including info on the Utica?

  • Valoreev

    I think this newsletter is “top shelf”. I do not find it biased or opinionated. I find it informative, user-friendly and a good clean format. I am pro-drilling, as an alternative to what we are dependent upon now, although I don’t know how anyone can say that they are not for “safe drilling”. Of course it needs to be safe, but it can’t be so over-regulated that again, we find a way to discredit and abandon anything new like wind farms and Marcellus shale. We need to wake up and realize there will be sacrifice if we are truly to move off the grid of foreign oil and stop being held captive by existing energy sources. Thanks for this newsletter.

  • Art

    Jim :

    Love the page and have enjoyed working with you thus far. Keep up the good work!


  • Paul Cometx NYC

    The NY Times didn’t oppose fracking, it simply pointed out serious issues with waste water treatment. Their articles were factual and well documented. That makes them un-scientific, ignorant and biased?? The highest purpose of journalism in a democracy is to shout out that the emperor has no clothes, to expose that which others are trying to hide. I’m guessing that you don’t get your drinking water downstream from the frack water discharges.

    I’ve pointed out previously that I’m a substantial landowner who doesn’t mind making a buck off the Marcellus, but not at the price of having my water, air and land polluted. I guess that makes me ignorant and evil. As I’ve noted before, just do a search of YouTube for “Marcellus” and you will dozens of videos by irate citizens who got snake-bit by Marcellus.

    If Marcellus drilling is done properly with all appropriate safeguards, then I welcome them on my land. America needs the gas and the jobs that Marcellus can provide, but that doesn’t give outsiders the green light to cut corners and pollute our lives, then go back to Texas to count their money while we get to clean up the mess.

  • jumpin

    Don’t change your style. Common sense is under attack and political correctness is one of the weapons used. Your facts are correct and that is all that maters.

  • Thank you Morgan. I wish we had more progressives like you! Point taken on the poking. Like I’ve said before, I welcome opposing viewpoints. It makes me think and keeps me honest. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  • Thanks for your encouragement Awagbx. Good point. Caveat emptor!

  • Sounds like you and I see things the same way. Thanks for commenting. I’m with you, a little attitude, like a little bit of salt in cooking, can make it better. However, what I have to keep reminding myself is, not too much. 🙂 Just the right amount to provide flavor.

  • Thanks for commenting Dagwood. I appreciate your encouragement. There are a number of other papers besides the Times-Tribune: the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, Elmira Star-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review…the list goes on. Every now and again you get a neutral story (about the best we can hope for), but even in those stories that report the news, they always contain the obligatory language about how hydraulic fracturing is “controversial” and “environmentalists fear that” and so on. Seems like it’s never just, “here’s the latest news on this.” Hence my post of today. I’ll admit up front I think this can be done and done safely–but also that we not simply give a blank check to drillers. Let’s all keep them honest, and if we discover a problem, we work to fix it and not just throw up our hands and give up.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  • Thanks Canardphil. Much appreciated!

  • Happens every day in PA and WV and Ohio. Thousands of times in fact. So methinks its an accurate statement of fact.

  • Thanks for the comment sane energy. I’ve had a few people comment on the Utica to me, and in coming months I’ll take a look at that. But for now, the action seems to be mostly in the Marcellus. But stay tuned!

  • Thank you for reading and commenting Valoreev. I appreciate your kind words. And I’m glad you mentioned wind. I’m not anti-alternative energy by any means. Hey, let’s continue to develop wind and solar, and let’s improve the technologies. I’ve been watching (and hoping) that solar would catch on for more than 20 years. But the brutal truth is, there is no way the world can dump fossil fuels for alternatives. Not in our lifetimes anyway. Keep developing alternatives for the future–all for it. But in the meantime, let’s develop the natural gas beneath our feet, give our country energy independence, give our neighbors jobs, and as Boone Pickens points out, use natural gas as a bridge to the future. Sure makes sense to me.

  • Thanks Art! Great working with you too…and I’ve finally got a small slice of time to get that ad posted. 🙂 Watch for it. You keep up the great work too. MDN points out the great resource available at: //, Art’s site.

  • Oh but I disagree. The Times manifestly did oppose fracking, in the way mainstream media loves to do it–by innuendo and telling one side of the story. And that’s just what the Times did. Plant the seed of doubt and fear.

    Did they use science? Sure. But not *all* of the science available. And I did not call them ignorant. I called some of my fellow citizens ignorant of their own Constitution and the rights it guarantees and how it guarantees those rights.

    Should the media call out injustice and cover-ups and problems? Sure thing. But what the Times did was an agenda-driven coloration of the “truth” — a spin. It was not objective. But they’re the mighty Times–so when they speak, people listen and don’t question it. Thing is, there are many of us today that don’t buy it hook, line and sinker.

    I would never say you’re ignorant or evil for wanting what I do: clean water, clean air, and land free of pollution. I’m saying if drilling in the Marcellus did all of those things, with as much drilling as takes place day in and day out, there would have been a huge reaction against it already. You’ll always find cases here and there where something goes wrong–it’s not reasonable to expect zero accidents, zero spills, etc. I am saying if drilling were the utter environmental catastrophe some claim it to be, the drilling would have stopped long ago.

    Cut corners? No way. I count on you and all of us, pro- and anti- to keep the drillers honest. I’m not sure who you mean by outsiders, but I don’t care if the driller is from PA, WV, TX, or wherever. As long as they do it right and play by the rules, I’m OK with them.

    My passionate disagreement is with people who say, “It can’t be done safely–ever. And therefore, it should never happen.” That’s just not common sense. My problem with articles like what the Times published is that they go after an industry using innuendo and scare tactics. Thank God for the Internet and the thousands of other news sources now available as a counter-balance to often-arrogant mainstream media like the Times.

  • Thanks jumpin! I appreciate the encouragement.

  • jking

    Thumbs up! You are right on target re: less Federal Government participation.

  • Thanks Joyce. You’ll find that a common theme in my musings on this site.

  • Stede

    I join the chorus that a little snark is welcome to counter the “opinion” pieces that are sold as “news”. I too recognize that we are not going to change our dependence on fossil fuels in our lifetime no matter how much we want the alternatives. We can just change the mix. The alternative crowd will be lucky if the wind, solar etc can keep up with the increasing demand for energy generally much less replace it.

  • Paul Cometx NYC

    Jim Willis was apparently present at a meeting of the NY Times editors, otherwise how could he possibly know that the editors decided to “plant the seeds of doubt and fear”?

    Here are some quotations from Jim. Note the frequent use of negative, emotional terms such as “ignorance”. “arrogance”, “doubt”, “fear”, “spin” etc.

    And that’s just what the Times did. Plant the seed of doubt and fear.

    They willfully ignore science and facts and instead color and shade their reporting to fit their preconceived viewpoints.

    But what the Times did was an agenda-driven coloration of the “truth” — a spin. It was not objective. But they’re the mighty Times–so when they speak, people listen and don’t question it.

    The federal government represents a dangerous mix of three ingredients when it comes to energy; ignorance, arrogance and politics.

    Our citizenry has become ignorant of our country’s great history

    I would argue (go ahead and laugh) that I do a better job of providing balance to both sides of the issue than many mainstream media outlets. ROFL!

    BTW The NY TImes is now behind a paywall, which nets out to about $0.50 cents a day. I immediately put my money where my mouth is to the tune of $180 a year for a subscription. I did it happily because when I used to buy the paper it cost me over $400 a year. I recognize that great journalism costs money to produce – the Times has 1,100 reporters and editors. Of course, you can always read the NY Post for free…

  • Otegogas

    Jim, I like the information you provide (though it always tries to paint the gas industry in the best possible light), but I could do with a little less attitude since there is plenty of it going around these days. Like you, I am for “safe and responsible” gas drilling – but I have set the bar higher than you. We need to stick to the facts and available statistics and not hyperbole or ideology when discussing the pros and cons of developing the Marcellus play, otherwise there is no way to have an intelligent discussion about the issue.

    The case for “safely” hydraulic fracturing the Marcellus shale is not a slam-dunk argument, because there are several technical and environmental issues that need to be worked out before I can give it a thumbs-up for us here in NY. The problem is the oil & gas industries have been operating out in the hinterlands for decades and old habits die hard. For example, the Quebec Government recently looked at 31 gas wells and found 19 of them to be leaking, so this statistic argues against the industry’s claim that gas drilling doesn’t pose serious environmental threats. As the issue of cement grout integrity has been discussed in detail by Dusseault and others, this is not a rare or isolated event. Yet, as critical as completely sealing the well-bore is to achieve protection for the aquifer, it remains as much art as it is science according to one industry insider (// This industry-wide problem does not seem to make it into the public debate about gas drilling nor is it being reported on by MDN, for some reason. Spills are another issue that needs to be addressed, since our water table is very close to the surface in the northeast making chemical spills more of a problem than in a place like Colorado or Texas. Again, the industry has a terrible track record in this department, and it never gets discussed in the public debate that is currently raging.

    Another problem that is left out of the discussion has to do with old and abandoned oil and gas wells that can serve as a conduit (along with fractures, fissures and fractures) for a frack job to “communicate” with nearby private wells. Such localized aquifer contamination from horizontal drilling operations is not uncommon, and it is an ongoing problem the petroleum industry is dealing with while at the same time publically stating that it “can’t occur” in the first place. The latest reporting on this reveals the problem persists across the nation, and this can’t remain ignored by state and federal regulators any longer (// Again, this is NOT part of the overall public debate because the gas industry pretends it is not an ongoing problem (“never happens”), whereas the reality on the ground says it is.

    Having done a lot of home-work on the way the gas industry operates, I do not share your overly enthusiastic view that gas drilling will be a good thing for this region. While gas drilling promises new jobs, the transformation from a rural agricultural area to a heavy-industrial work zone with thousands of gas wells over time will negatively impact this region for a great many decades after the last well has been drilled. I say this sitting on over 100 acres with at least 3 major gas plays under me, so I understand the economic benefits to be had – but it just isn’t worth it given the current state-of-the-art of shale gas extraction and the industry’s abysmal track record.

    So, at this current time I have serious reservations about the compatibility of doing industrial-scale gas drilling in residential and agricultural areas, like upstate NY. Put differently, we don’t want the kinds of incidents being reported in PA to become the headlines in our local newspapers if gas drilling gets the green light in NY – the gas industry has to show us they can do better before being allowed to move forward in this state, and denying they have any serious problems while attacking those who don’t buy into their industry PR-hype is the absolute wrong way to go!

  • Thanks for your comments. You’ve given me some new areas to investigate and things to think about–always a good thing. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.