Need Marcellus info? Ask Penn State

Farm and Dairy has been writing about the Marcellus shale formation natural gas development issue since 2008, but some readers are just starting to pay attention because the landmen are now knocking on their door.

That’s OK, because you can benefit from the wealth of knowledge gained since the issue first blipped on the radar.

If there was ever a time to learn to use the Internet, it’s now, in the midst of the Marcellus/Utica shale oil and gas boom that’s making its way across Ohio.

Yes, you can find all sorts of hysteria on both sides of the drilling argument online. But when I want to find a resource for sound shale drilling information, I first turn to the folks at Penn State Extension. They have been working with this issue since 2001 and have compiled a deep and thorough bank of answers to typical landowner and public official questions that you can easily mine. You can also visit the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.

Ohio State also just created its Center for Subsurface Energy to be a resource to policy makers, as well as lend the university’s considerable research expertise to subsurface energy development and environmental issues.

And Ohio will get there, eventually, with shale drilling info, but Penn State is still my go-to resource (although some specific information on state regulations will not translate to other states).

My light reading for the evening was a 2010 fact sheet, Gas Well Drilling and Your Private Water Supply. It’s a very well done, easy-to-read, complete guide. The site is full of guides and articles and research like it.

Penn State Extension has also been a leader in offering “webinars,” or online seminars about the shale development. It’s like going to a meeting (you can ask questions via your computer) without leaving your home. You can find the dates and topics of upcoming meetings on the website, and you can also access previously recorded webinars.

Here’s the thing: This issue is too important for any landowner or resident to ignore. Ignorance is not bliss, in this case. And I really don’t want to hear the excuse “I didn’t know” because there is ample information out there. Plus Ohio Farm Bureau has held meetings, law firms have held meetings, OSU Extension has held meetings, Ohio Farmers Union has held meetings, and meetings continue to be held in Pennsylvania, too.

Ask questions of sound sources, like Extension staffers, attorneys or accountants. You can’t go by what your neighbor does, because his situation or lease may be different than yours. Use our journalism credo: “Trust, but verify.”

The best advice is this: “The time to do the research and make sure that the lease is most beneficial to you is before signing the lease agreement.”

And, yes, that came straight from a Penn State Extension booklet.

About the Author

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scrowell and follow Farm and Dairy at http://twitter.com/farmanddairy. You can also find her on Google+ and Facebook. More Stories by Susan Crowell

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