Regulations on Natural Gas Drilling: An Analogy that we can all relate to

Let's face it, the majority of people involved with shales have no clue as to what is going on around them.  They don't know the history of drilling, they don't know the regulations, and they don't know the environmental protection advances the industry has made over the past 50 years since the start of hydraulic fracturing.  I'm not saying this in a negative way.  Why would people know anything about these new technologies?  If instead a "shale boom", let's imagine there was a "maplewood boom" and people wanted to rip the sides off of my log cabin.  What would I do?  I would likely become extremely protective of my pricey wood cabin, and would likely have a defensive stance.  It doesn't necessarily mean the loggers are wreckless, but that defensive mechanism is the natural human response.


The kneejerk response to this shale boom isn't much different.  Instead of your log cabin, you are protecting your land, your water, your environment.  It's new to people, and that is fine, but before we start pointing fingers at who is responsible for safe drilling we have to understand the specific roles of the people involved.  I feel as though the claims of "We have to stop these oil companies from steamrolling through our land!  Let's petition against them" are pointed in the wrong direction.  Energy companies follow strict laws and operate under the watchful eye of governing bodies.  They abide by their rules or they can't drill.  I feel as though an analogy everybody can relate to can clear this up.


Let's say Joe gets on a highway in Texas.  Joe sees the speed limit is listed as 70.  Joe knows this enforcing agency is extremely strict with violations, fines up to a million dollars, so Joe will never go over that limit.  This speed limit number has been revised over the past 50 years and it works.  It's safe. 


Joe then hears a brand new highway has opened up in the Appalachian basin and wants to test it out.  This highway is new to the Appalachian Basin residents who are used to their 25 mile per hour side roads.  A 70 mile per hour limit is unheard of, so the agencies tighten up and set it at 60.  As always, Joe abides by this limit set by the agencies.  In fact, Joe must present written documents for his speed across every mile he drives or he can not use it.  Still, this new highway is extremely new to current residents.  They see Joe on the road and they develop an anger towards Joe, even though he has been safely driving on these types of roads for the past 50 years.  The residents make a lot of noise to try and slow down the speed limit to 45 on the highway.  It passes.  The New York residents slow it down to ZERO.  Nobody is on that highway.  No tolls are paid.  Still, the anger is towards Joe. 


My question is, why would Joe be to blame for following the speed limit?   In the same sense, why would energy companies be to blame for following the set of laws in place?  These restrictions aren't new to the industry.  They were created and refined over the past 50 years.  You don't hear about the people using the Texas highways that safely abide by the speed limit - which include thousands of drivers everyday.  What you hear of are the 1 or 2 incidents per year where somebody drove over the limit, likely because of a mechanical problem,  and got in a fatal accident.  Those are the incidents that make the news.  This creates an overwhelmingly biased view of those Texas highways.


There are two points here:


1.  These restrictions and techniques may be new to the Appalachian basin, but they are far from a new technique and set of rules.  They have been refined for you already across the country.  Even though this speed limit is a lot higher than we're used to, they are still much stricter than the majority of the country.

2.  Even if you still have a problem with the "speed limit", why blame Joe?   Why is it the energy companies are responsible for making even stricter regulations?  If you drove on that highway, would you ever get out of your car and change the speed limit from "60" to "30"? .....  or even in the most drastic cases "0".    It's not the driver's job to change the limits.    People have anger towards the wrong group.  You want Joe to slow his speed down?  Then try and get the limits changed.   You don't ask Joe to do that, you ask the enforcing agency.  Joe really isn't such a bad guy you know.


The limits are there.  They're stricter than most of the country.  They are abided by, and these companies have a watchful eye on them at all times.  If we shut down these highways we'll have to resort to our horse and buggies like New York is doing right now.  Did I mention those buggy axels are imported from foreign countries? 


Let's let Joe drive.  Go Marcellus.

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I am all for exploiting this resourse in my backyard. I'm having trouble with the communication techniques of both sides of this issue. Environmentalist types, rightfully, want as much information as they need to feel confortable but then they resort to a "sky-is-falling", pump-up-the-fear approach. In response to requests for specific information they get "trust me" or "you don't understand" analogies (yours) in response. The distrust continues. You will continue to have distrust as long as the government and quasi-goverment organizations (Penn State) rely on gas company money to fund their activities. Trying to get folks to come to another firehouse meeting to listen to the same thing they've read in the newspaper a thousand times is, largely, fruitless. Use new media to communicate with folks. If a spill happens, it gets cleaned up, fine paid, report generated as to causes, results, changes made. Publish that info - make a darned 3 minute youtube video. I mean from the offending company itself. Issue a press release about it. If these gas/drilling companies beleive everything they are telling folks then they should not have a problem with this approach. You just can't leave folks with the only personal interaction being when you are negotiating leases and/or handing out checks. Both sides need a much more effective communication technique because right now both sides are losing. Thanks for starting the thread.
1. "You will continue to have distrust as long as the government and quasi-goverment organizations (Penn State) rely on gas company money to fund their activities." Typical response. See my other post addressing this... question #4:

2. " If a spill happens, it gets cleaned up, fine paid, report generated as to causes, results, changes made. Publish that info - make a darned 3 minute youtube video. I mean from the offending company itself. Issue a press release about it." Here is the press release Cabot gave about their pipe failure in Dimock, and lists their response:

By the way, the industry doesn't post videos on youtube or "new media" because that isn't where anybody should ever go to get information. Ever. Either pro-drilling or against it. I find it almost humorous that is where people get their info these days. How can you believe any of that stuff?

What you fail to recognize is that 99% of the anti-drilling pieces you may find on youtube, local newspapers, or any other nonpeer-reviewed media is just garbage - so grossly biased it is not even worth looking at. Unfortunately that is where people turn to get their "info". Encouraging the industry to join the lie brigade would validate the anti-drilling groups' tainted message as being possibly true. The information is there, but you all are looking in the wrong places. "New Media" like youtube is GARBAGE. Read any proper USGS publication on drilling or fracking and you will see. Again it will come back to the point you'll make of "well they're in the pockets of the industry". If you'd rather trust youtube and "new media" than a scientific peer-reviewed publication then I'm sorry, you'll never get the true story. The information is available, but it's hard to find when you have this wall of propoganda in front of you.

Please, stay off youtube.
That wall you are talking about, Roy, is as much in front of you as anyone else. Youtube and new media are reaching hundreds of thousands more people that your "peer-reviewed" publication. Who, exactly, in the middle of of the Marcellus, do you think receives these publications. To my point about poor communcation you also are to blame as you spout about what folks should read but do not post a link to such "valuable" resources. I stated at the beginning of my post that I am all for the exacting of these resources yet you come back immediately in the defensive. Take a load off Ray. With the attitude you gave me you will never get anything done. Happy Communicating! I'll continue to watch your improvement in that regard.
Start here:

The go to DEP's publication:

Again, from the DEP:

Get through this long publication from the Department of Energy and you'll be an expert:

Publication from the Pitt geological society about natural gas seepage (pre-Marcellus):

List of chemicals used in fracturing from DEP:

List of powerpoint presentations from the DEP addressing a variety of issues:

Water Management plan form to be filled out by companies:

Everything is right there for you if you actually put the time in to not click on the first link that pops in front of you. I am glad you are for the extraction of this valuable resource, and I apologize for sounding harsh. I hope you and others actually read these credible articles. Side note to the skeptics of these articles: If you can't trust papers published from the peer-reviewed scientific community, the debate ends.

Hope this helps.
Thank you! The only link you provide that I have not previously read is the pitt..geo.. link on frac chemicals. I only point this out to illustrate that although you and I may be on the same side of the "Go Marcellus" equation, we seem to have a disagreement about how to reach the masses with a message that makes sense ( and puts them at some ease). The links you provide indicate (or satisfactorily presume) what should be considered your advanced knowledge on the subject. I accept that (your knowledge on the subject). We diverge at communication of these issues. Your last post I find indispensible for people who are actively seeking information. But isn't it interesting that the place one might find a very fine listing of links on the subject is basically "hidden" on a website wallowing in the sea of information. I, like you, Roy, wish folks were informed at a level to make for more constructive dialogue but the fact is they are wondering about, seeking, sometimes not finding, and, sometimes, finding and not understanding. Many emotions involved also. Many folks, very reluctantly, and finally, having to admit the industries of the past are, and will be for the foreseeable future, dismantled. To some, out here where life was simpler for awhile, this may be all to much. Most realize this will happen anyway. They just want to know they are understood, not ignored, and, above all, protected. In this day, in this political environment, please don't ask them to trust their bureaucracies. That trust is not evident right now. Thanks, sincerely, for continuing the dialogue. I really do appreciate your viewpoint.
OMG thats quite an anology, I really like that............saysit all.

Well spoken. It is obvious you took the time to address the issues facing the industry and made a creative analogy anyone can understand.
Obviously we all know that many changes are coming to the state of Pennsylvania due to the Marcellus shale deposit and the tecnowlogy that can access it and the gas that can be utilized.

I own a few acres that have been leased for a measily small sum for many years now. The acreage has been in my family for a very long time. Nearly all of my life has been spent here. Many folks have no idea of what my ancestors or their ancestors went thru to hang on to a piece of the earth and call it their own. To them dollar bills are the only thing that counts.

But maybe now it is time to, not necessarily to put aside the struggles and hardships suffered by those early settlers, but to accept the fact that the marcellus deposit is ripe and ready to be harvested. I want to leave the acreage to my son and hope he will do the same for his son in the future. Royalities will make things a lot easier for my offspring and his offspring many years down the road.

From what I have seen in my area, the wells being drilled are done in a safe way and are being left in a reasonabily good condition. The problem I have right now is not my decision whether to lease or not but whether or not a drilling company can make some sort of deal with the storage area folks who presently are holding the lease. I have been told that the entire township area has been put on hold as far as leasing is concerned. Is it going to take years or even decades to straighten this particular situation out? I dont know!
Thank you for a great analogy.

What most of the general public never thinks about is the fact that almost ALL of the stories they are reading in newspapers and hearing on the news are NOT based on fact at all. A major web of so called "environmentalist" organizations have recently sprung up and they put out a slew of misinformation on a daily basis. The news organizations then blindly use that garbage (with the disaster scenario they love so much) to up ratings and sell papers.

There is an excellent record of safety in natural gas drilling. The often used images of lighting tap water (which has been done for a hundred years) has nothing to do with drilling. It has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that natural gas exists here.

Our problem now pertains to the short attention span of most people. They see a clip on TV of brown water in a jar and hear the announcer say it was caused by fracking, (though it wasn't) and they just believe it. Instead of thinking to themselves, "hey, that makes no sense, maybe I should check into the sources" , all the bogus information becomes fact to them and they form the opinion that drilling will harm the environment.

Laziness has taken over. Lazy brains, lowering of overall intelligence, ability to be lied to without question.

It will continue because these new "environmental" organizations are not really concerned with the environment at all. They have an agenda, which is MUCH bigger than what you are led to believe, but they throw up the smokescreen of "live green", "protect our earth", etc and you all go along with it because you think it is politically correct. By the time you realize what they are ACTUALLY doing it will be too late. You will have lost all freedom that made this country great.

WAKE UP, everyone. You pollute the ground water more with your bags of lawn chemicals, your bug sprays, the cleaners you dump down your drains, and your lazy everyday living. THINK about what you are seeing.
While I am not opposed to drilling, I do think there is reason for concern. The driving analogy used at the top of this post is pretty accurate, but lets think about that for a brief moment. While 99% of us can drive down the road at a safe and reasonable speed, and obey the laws, we forget about the 1% of bad apples. We've all been on the road with Larry Latesleeper, who despite his best efforts can't get out of bed on time and is now driving 85 mph. Then there is Tina Texter, who is having an in depth conversation via text message with her best friend Fiona Fastfingers. And lets not forget Friday night Fred, who goes out with the boys after work and has a few too many before climbing behind the wheel. While these names are obviously fictional and meant to be funny, I think it addresses the situation that 1% of people can create problems for the other 99%. In regards to the gas industry, there have already been reports of illegal dumping of frac water down old wells in the Alleghany National Forest. While these guys may get a jail sentence, who pays the bills for the cleanup when there is a problem? Furthermore, those 2 got caught, but how many may have gotten away with it? I certainly see plenty of folks that could use a speeding ticket every day. It may not be the drillers that are the actual problem, but there are a lot of players in this industry, all of which could have negative impacts on the environment.
Sorry for the confusion, I got the rundown about it from a colleague and thought it had been gas related. Drilling for oil, drilling for gas, illegal dumping of brine is still illegal dumping no?The point I was trying to make is simply that there are problems that will arise, and that a few bad apples, regardless of the industry they are in, have the potential to create real big problems. Those two got caught, and hopefully problems do not arise for anyone living in that area. But it should serve as a reminder that when motivated by greed, as in this case by a crew that refused to pay for proper permitting, corners get cut and long-term problems can be created. I am by no means on the far left trying to stop drilling, but I do think that the concerns voiced by many are justified
NO ONE wants problems due to natural gas drilling. Least of all us landowners.

The biggest problem right now is that FAKE issues keep being put out as real issues. In other words, certain organizations and individuals are making up stories that have no basis in fact, then they create scary photos and headlines, and lie to the general public. This helps NO ONE.

It is not possible anymore to rely on news organizations to report FACT, as they have started cutting corners by reporting fabrications written by ProPublica, and the like. This helps no one.

Maybe because there is not enough REAL ammunition to kill natural gas drilling?


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