marcellus shale

An Elegy of the Marcellus Shale region

When U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler visited Pittsburgh on October 24 last year, his first order of business was to visit a Range Resources well-pad outside Washington, Pa., announcing that the EPA would continue “removing regulatory barriers and leveling the playing field for American companies.” Politicians, billboards and commercials on local TV …

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Pittsburgh’s Top Stories of 2016

Number five: Pittsburgh’s 200th Anniversary. Pittsburgh is getting younger. You read about it, hear about it and see it anytime you’re out on the “tahn.” Even the demographic data backs it up. If you still don’t believe it, consider this: This year, just eight years after the Pittsburgh 250 celebration, the City of Pittsburgh celebrated …

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Boom and Bust

All over rural pennsylvania, motel parking lots, which just a couple of years ago were teeming with lumbering pickup trucks with out-of-state plates, are nearly empty. So are the hastily constructed “man camps” that not so long ago provided temporary shelter for roughnecks and roustabouts. So are the breakfast joints where they used to eat. …

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A Window Into the Marcellus

“Heat and Light,” the latest novel from western Pennsylvania native Jennifer Haigh, has tandem virtues. It possesses not only the urgent feel of a story “ripped from the headlines,” as they say, but also the grace and insight of American literary fiction for the ages. The Marcellus Shale boom in Pennsylvania has been examined at …

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Neither, Either, Or

If you want to explore the vexing subject of global climate change, Seamus McGraw is the guy to have as a tour guide. He will not torture your brain with elaborate science, tax your patience with lectures about evil consumer habits, or bash you over the head with partisan arguments. Instead, he takes you to …

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The New Marcellus Debate

It has become the new flash point in the battle over the development of the Marcellus, with advocates for development facing off against opponents, not in remote fields in rural Pennsylvania, but all over the region. And it’s not just about drilling anymore. The new battle over the Marcellus is being fought over hundreds of …

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Marcellus Shale: A Tricky Situation

For years, it’s been a common rallying cry among activists that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has coddled its burgeoning natural gas industry at the expense of other state priorities. Perhaps nothing, they contend, has been more emblematic of that cozy relationship than the fact that Pennsylvania is the only active drilling state in the union …

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Chevron’s Nigel Hearne

For the past 100 years, the U.S. blossomed in part due to an oil boom with roots in the 19th century, the beginning of the modern oil period. That was when George Bissell, a school teacher, lawyer, entrepreneur and journalist—a true Renaissance man—conceived the idea that the “rock” oil that bubbled up very near to …

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Shale Gas & the Environment

For years the well pads, truck traffic and logos of energy companies large and small multiplied across counties like Washington and Greene as southwestern Pennsylvania became a poster child for the rush to extract natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale. It was in such a climate that the region recently assumed a new identity …

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The Royalty Rub

When Mary Jane Foelster and her husband, Richard, retired five years ago and left Philadelphia for a secluded 50-acre tract of land in Bradford County, they never figured they’d get rich. In fact, until they were about to close on the property, they didn’t even know that the previous owners had signed a lease with …

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Red Flags Rising

It’s been more than a year since Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, stepped to the lectern on a sweltering summer day in Houston and issued a stern warning to a gathering of energy executives. She acknowledged the potential advantages of the unconventional shale gas boom—from increasing the nation’s energy …

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Finding Common Ground

The conversations began quietly two years ago in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Could natural gas be harvested from shale without writing a new chapter in the legacy of tainted air and water that had been the price of nearly a century of steel making and mining in the region? And was there an appetite among energy …

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The Marcellus Shale Dilemma

A blistering July—the hottest on record—vaporized heat records in thousands of communities across the country. A historic and prolonged drought settled across a vast swath of the southern and central United States, devastating corn crops and threatening to send the cost of everything that depends on it—from baby food to burgers to the ethanol we …

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The Future of the Marcellus Shale

After eight years of unprecedented expansion, the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania is now weighed down by its own success, analysts say. Struggling with a market that is being flooded with more natural gas than it can bear, the industry is optimistically predicting that new markets in transportation, home heating, chemical manufacturing and other industries …

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An Industrial Renaissance

When the reserves of Marcellus Shale gas in the tri-state area proved vast—84 trillion cubic feet by one estimate—it was no surprise when the region became the epicenter of a thriving new industry. What may have been unexpected was the extent to which the Marcellus boom would invigorate the economy generally. The availability of cheap, …

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The Problem of Price

From the moment the rush began to develop the vast untapped resources of gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale, economists and industry analysts warned that the massive explosion of cash that was pouring into the state—and in many cases right back out of it—would ebb and flow. There would be times of expansion, when drillers …

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Show Me the Money

It was hailed as a game changer. Almost immediately after the first Marcellus Shale natural gas well was spudded in a rocky hilltop in Washington County, unleashing for the first time a vast cache of domestically produced energy, the discovery was hailed as the harbinger of a revolution in energy production that would pump upwards …

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Faces of the Marcellus Shale

In the past several years, ancient organic matter trapped more than a mile beneath the surface of the earth has changed life in Greater Pittsburgh. The vast deposits of natural gas deep in rock are known collectively as the Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus has softened the Great Recession and brought a cash infusion to previously …

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The Utica Shale

A century and a half ago, a desperate, down-on-his-luck former railroad man named Edwin Drake wandered into a remote hollow in northwestern Pennsylvania and stuck a drill a few dozen yards down into the rocky soil. After a few false starts, Drake and his men struck a cache of crude oil that, while small by …

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A Toxic Topic

There is no doubt about it. The Marcellus Shale is radioactive, in every sense of the word. In the literal sense of the word, geologists and drillers have long known that each shale deposit has its own radioactive signature. In fact, they have often measured that radiation—from uranium, thorium, radium 226 and radium 228—and used …

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Our Water and the Marcellus Shale

The rig, a 70-foot steel spire, soared above the manmade moonscape atop the plateau that Chesapeake Energy’s contractors had hewn out of the hillside on my family farm in Wyoming County. And as my 8-year-old daughter and I trekked along the ridge above it to get a better look, I was struck with an odd …

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A Gas-Based Economy

It was mid-afternoon in late winter, and the public relations man for one of the larger drilling companies in Pennsylvania was driving me back along a rutted country road from a rig we had just visited. He had been extolling the virtues of the state’s vast cache of natural gas, ticking off the ways in …

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