Wilkes Marcellus Shale Drilling Forum Brings to Light Just How Many Active Gas Wells There are in PA

Wilkes University held a Marcellus Shale drilling forum on Wednesday. According to press reports, the upshot of the meeting was that it will not be impossible, but will certainly be difficult, to get a consensus on natural gas drilling that uses horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Read an excellent roundup of the meeting by clicking the link below.

One bit of information offered during the meeting is interesting to note:

[Nancy] Dolan [from the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition] outlined residents’ main concerns, which are for property rights, clean air and clean water. She brought up three well blowouts in the last year, in Clearfield, Tioga and Bradford counties, and listed several steps that should be taken to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents.

Steve Brokenshire, an environmental scientist with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said there are currently between 130,000 and 150,000 active wells in Pennsylvania — 350,000 since oil and gas drilling began in the state in 1859 — so “horror stories” should be taken in context.*

It seems those who oppose natural gas drilling in PA many times don’t know the scope of drilling—just how much natural gas drilling has gone on in the state since it first began in the 1800s. No doubt many (most?) of the 130-150K active wells in PA were fracked. Yes, there is a difference between vertical fracking and horizontal fracking. The difference? The volume of water, sand and chemicals used. But fracking technology itself is some 60 years old and has been used in millions of gas and oil wells nationwide.

*The Citizen’s Voice (May 26, 2011) – Wilkes holds forum on Marcellus Shale drilling issues

  • Sherry

    I attended the meeting and “difficult” might be overly optimistic. 
    Within minutes of being engaged in a conversation before the forum
    started and telling the other person I was pro-drilling, he informed me
    that over half of the citations on the PA DEP website were for actions
    that WILL have negative environmental effects. I told him I was also aware of the spreadsheet and asked how, when most of them were administrative infractions (paperwork), would this effect the environment.  He said I was reading it incorrectly.  Later, when Nancy Dolan took the mike, I realized he must be a member of GDAC, because she used the same numbers, but said these infractions COULD harm the environment.

    It’s interesting Nancy got first mention, especially since she took the stage only to spout every over-the-top claim the opponents always bring up – 560 frac fluids, fracing not regulated (so called Halliburton,exemption…), when the other speakers subject matter was based so much on fact. (I didn’t get to stay until the end, but my understanding is one of the other speakers took her to task for being one who strikes fear.)  Oh, her answer to create consensus is to make the regulations so strict, the gas companies will simply leave or will have no place to drill when they have to follow, among other things, TWO_MILE setbacks from water sources.

    It’s a shame since the reporter cited so many statistics, he left this one out: Clayton Bubeck’s company, RETTEW, employs 325 people, 80% if who work with drilling related engineering issues.  Of these 325 employees, 170 of them have been hired since last June.

    It was a novel approach to the contentious issue of Marcellus Drilling, with very informative speakers.  I received a follow up survey and it appears Wilkes may continue to study the issue.

  • Thanks Sherry for your very helpful first-hand report. Appreciated!

  • Sherry

    You’re welcome!  FYI on another forum/event: The Penn State Cooperative Extension will hold a workshop on
    “Marcellus Shale – Understanding Development Issues,” 6 to 8:30 p.m.
    Tuesday, June 7, at the Tunkhannock Area High School.

    Speakers include Dave Messersmith, Penn State Extension educator
    with the 
    Marcellus Education Team; Dave Yoxtheimer, extension associate
    with Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research; Scott
    Perry, director of the Bureau of Oil and Gas Management, PA DEP, and county resident Emily Krafjack.  Krafjack is an area gardener and farmer and has a realistic view of the industry.  From what I have read about her, she is neither over zealous in defending the industry nor making “end-of-the-world” predictions.

    Discussion will include exploration development, waste water and
    recycling, environmental protection and Marcellus shale well
    development and a question-and-answer period will follow the discussion.  Participants will have an opportunity to gain a greater
    understanding of the fundamentals of exploration, and how industry and
    the DEP are dealing with waste water and well development.

    Contact the Wyoming County Extension Office to register to attend at
    (570) 836-3196 in advance or with any questions.

  • Also a shame that the article didn’t Clayton Bubeck’s mention that it was the gas companies fault that people don’t trust them. I have a question for the big “Fracking has been going on safetly for 60 years” argument. If it has, that why are they screwing it up now? 5.7% of wells cause contamination. That is 1 in 17 of every well causes a well contamination. Don’t you think that is too high?

  • Sherry

     If I may, Mr. Rendell,

    Fracing is not the cause of the methane migration issues we have experienced in NEPA.  Dimock was an incident of improper well casing, as it appears those in Bradford County are as well..  The downside of this is 18 persons households were effected, although most of their water has been returned to acceptable drinking water standards – or as good as before.  The upside is new regulations have been put into place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  There now needs to be three casing strings ran (state regs) and a 24-hour cement drying period put in place.  Not sure if the 24-hour period is state regs or is being followed by certain companies.  However, incidents occurred, regulations were put in place and the incidents should be lower if not outright cease.

    I am total agreement with you regarding it being the gas companies’ faults for the mistrust.  First they send in the landmen, subcontractors who work in their best interests and I have heard the horror stories.  Then, they didn’t communicate with the locals about what the gas extraction process entailed.  In hindsight, this should have been done before the first bit hit the ground, but they just kept silent while the mistrust grew.

    IMHO, that’s when extremist groups got their foots in the door by spreading their misinformation and started twisting the facts for their own purposes.  Gasland hit HBO and even though it is fraught with inaccurate portrayals, and OUTRIGHT LIES, it spread as the gospel truth.  Now you have 79% of people surveyed admitted they don’t know anything about gas extraction and groups like GDAC and others spreading their worst case scenarios and dooms day predictions that all the water is going to be polluted.

    I attended the meeting hoping to find a glimmer of hope that differences could be set aside, but without the education and correct information being disseminated, as was Dr. Klemow’s first suggestion: “Accurate UNBIASED information needs to be relied on”, it’s hard for me to believe certain groups will follow his second suggestion that “ALL concerned parties must act in good faith”, will we even begin to initiate a consensus.

    Oil and gas companies have conceded there have been mistakes and have made changes to address them.  Let’s face it, it’s not a feel good thing, it simply costs them more in the end if they don’t, as does not being regulatory compliant.  When will the extremist opponents start being productive by addressing the real risks: surface spills and blowouts, and quit trying to convince everyone the sky is falling?

  • aniken

    1 in 17 wells. it’s time for you gasholes to go away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SOLAR RULES!!!!!

  • aniken


  • aniken


  • Your argument would be stronger Ted if you could point to the research that shows 5.7% are causing contamination. Also, what kind? Methane? Chemical? And is it water that is getting contaminated? So many allegations are thrown around you have to be very specific as to what you’re referring to.

  • Don’t bother leaving any more comments as you’re not able to do so civilly. Anyone can name call. Next comment like this one and your IP will be banned from the site.

  • Anonymous

    jim sounds like the truth hurts.

  • I have absolutely no problems with opposing viewpoints, as you can clearly see in the many (many!) comments that take me to task on this blog. So you don’t have a leg to stand on. I will not, however, tolerate blatant temper tantrums, especially ones that call me or others profanities as that commenter did (comments that were subsequently deleted). That crosses the line.

  • And by the way, why not leave your real name? To all commenters this is addressed. I find by leaving your real name, you think twice before popping off.

  • Anonymous

    brian dooku ok

  • Anonymous

    jim if you can’t  handle the REAL TRUTH about natural gas maybe you should cancel this site

  • Anonymous

    I live 20 minutes from Dimock and know a number of people who live in the “Consent Order” area. Of those who are not a part of the lawsuit and accepted mitigation procedures, one has stated their water has returned to the condition it was previously (btw-he’s an environmental consultant) and another has stated his water is better than it was previously.  What about the litigants?  Who knows, as they refuse to comply with the mandatory bi-monthly testing.  Data provided by the DEP upon request shows methane levels have diminished in those households allowing the followup testing.  So yes, I would drink the water.

    FYI, even the most vocal of the litigants have dropped touting frac fluid contamination, because John Hanger among MANY others, has came out publicly and stated there has never been any evidence of frac fluid contamination in this area.

  • Anonymous

    jim would you let your children live in bradford county? childhood cancer is high in drilling areas

  • Anonymous

    it hasn’t stopped you jim willis. why don’t you stop popping off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks for your advice Brian. I assure you, I can handle the truth. 🙂

  • Jim you are right, Ted’s argument is a little farfetched.
    Randomly placing numbers and implying they are truthful with no scientific
    background is unfair to the readers of this blog. Here, however, is a truthful
    fact; US EPA not aware of any proven case where Hydraulic Fracturing has affected
    drinking water.


    Here are three references to this fact:


    Joint landowners Coalition of NY –   //bit.ly/ii8TAe


    YouTube Link to Fox News Coverage – //bit.ly/mKOEGz


    Energy in Depth’s article – //bit.ly/keyGTI


    Finally here is an article about Flammable Water in
    Susquehanna Co. – In the 18th Century!   –

  • The 5.7% rate of contamination is in this video. Bill, you had a reporter there, why are you playing dumb? //youtu.be/PGXTiNQcOik

  • Yoyu may not. Pollution of wells is happening because of gas drilling. From whatever part of gas drilling does not matter. Pollution of wells is pollution of wells. If gas drilling was not happening, these wells would’nt be polluted.

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