Posts Tagged ‘LEHMAN TWP’

Drilling benefits rec site

Land in the Back Mountain complex will not be disturbed, since the approach is horizontal.

By Steve
Staff Writer

LEHMAN TWP. – Board members who oversee the Back Mountain Recreation Complex will certainly appreciate any revenue derived from a natural gas lease if local Marcellus Shale development is successful, but that’s not why they approved the lease, according to the board president.

“All of the adjacent landowners to our property I believe did sign leases with Marcellus Shale companies,” said board President Richard Coslett, a dentist practicing in Shavertown, Kingston Township.

Because it was expected that natural gas drilling would be going on all around the organization’s 130-acre property, there was no reason not to sign a lease with Chief Oil & Gas, Coslett said. “But there will be no well drilling on the property &hellip absolutely not.”

“Our land is there for one purpose – for the recreational enjoyment of residents of the Back Mountain,” he said.

Back Mountain Recreation will receive a bonus payment of $12.50 per acre and, if natural gas is extracted from the land beneath the complex, the organization will receive 20 percent royalty payments.

Coslett said that money would go right back into developing the complex.

Coslett said the lease gives permission to Chief Oil & Gas to drill horizontally deep underneath the organization’s property without disturbing the surface. “Now, on the other properties, I can’t speak for that,” he said.

EnCana Oil & Gas is proposing to drill just over a mile from the complex on property owned by Lake Township Supervisor Amy Salansky and her husband, Paul.

There was “very concerned discussion” among the board members about the safety of children and adults who use the complex if natural gas wells were drilled on nearby property, Coslett said.

“We see what happened to the roads in the Northern Tier counties; we heard the stories of water being contaminated in the Northern Tier. Myself and the board are very concerned about those things happening here also,” Coslett said.

And, of course, the thought of an explosion on property near the complex similar to the natural gas well blowout in Clearfield County on June 3 would be enough to make any Back Mountain recreational enthusiast shudder.

But Coslett is hopeful state officials will make sure adequate regulatory safeguards are in place before drilling begins anywhere near the complex.

“I really think there is a lot of emotional information out there right now,” Coslett said. “I can understand both sides of the issue. Hopefully, the facts will come out.”

The organization is in the process of a multiphase development. A lacrosse field and two soccer fields opened in summer 2007. They were dedicated in May 2008 as Edward Darling Field, Flack Field and Pride Field.

Two more full-size soccer fields and two mid-size soccer fields were completed in fall 2008 and opened for use last fall. The fields are currently used by Back Mountain Youth Soccer and Back Mountain Lacrosse. A football field, used by the Back Mountain Youth Football and Cheerleading League, is the most recent addition.

The fields lie on about 40 acres of the complex dedicated to organized recreational activities, Coslett said. But the board wants to develop part of the remaining 90 acres for passive recreational activities such as hiking and biking trails and other activities.

Copyright: Times Leader

State tells how to protect water quality

A Back Mountain workshop addresses potential problems with Marcellus Shale drilling.

By Steve
Staff Writer

LEHMAN TWP. – Back Mountain residents who attended a workshop on “Natural Gas Drilling and Drinking Water” on Thursday received a mini education on how to protect their wells from potential contamination by migrating natural gas as well as what two regulator agencies are doing to protect state waterways from the same potential threat.

Contact the state Department of Environmental Protection at the following numbers with questions about water quality related to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and concerns about suspected contamination:
826-2300 – 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays
826-2511 – after-hours emergency and complaint number
321-6550 – Bureau of Oil & Gas East Regional Main Office
Call Bryan Swistock of the Penn State Cooperative Extension with questions about protecting water wells at 814-863-0194.

Bryan Swistock, a water resources extension associate from the Penn State Cooperative Extension, presented an hour-long talk about natural gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale formation, how problems with drilling operations could potentially affect drinking water supplies, and what residents can and should do to protect them.

The program was hosted by the Cooperative Extension, state Sen. Lisa Baker, state Rep. Karen Boback, Back Mountain Community Partnership, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Swistock said about 41 percent of all private drinking water wells fail at least one water quality test, so it’s smart to test one’s well water regularly even without the threat of natural gas from drilling wells migrating into them.

Swistock said energy companies are required to test all water supplies within 1,000 feet of a drilling site before drilling so they have a baseline to compare test results if there is suspected contamination of a water supply by drilling activity. Some companies, such as EnCana Oil and Gas, which is poised to begin drilling in the Back Mountain in July, test wells within 1 mile of a drill site.

Swistock said residents should make sure the person collecting water samples works for a state-accredited lab. He said he’s talked to several people who told them the person who took samples was the same person who negotiated a land lease with them.

For folks who live outside the area in which the energy company pays for testing but want to play it safe, he said a full round of tests can cost up to $1,000. However, testing for the most common elements associated with Marcellus Shale drilling – methane, chloride, barium and total dissolved solids (TDS) – costs only about $150.

Indicators of water problems include foaming or bubbling water or spurting faucets, salty or metallic tastes, changes in water color or odor and reductions in water quantity or flow.

Also making presentations on Thursday were Michael McDonnell, a water quality specialist with DEP, and Tom Beauduy, deputy director and counsel for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

Copyright: Times Leader

Residents worry about gas drillers contaminating water

Encana Gas and Oil spokeswoman says company would be required by the state to correct problems.

By Jen
Staff Writer

LEHMAN TWP. – Stefanie Spezzia and her husband, Howard, live just outside of a one-mile radius of an exploratory drilling well site in the Back Mountain.

The Spezzias built their Shady Lane home nearly four years ago, but now they worry about the possibility of water contamination due to drilling into the Marcellus Shale for natural gas. It was one of many concerns talked about at a Tuesday evening meeting for neighbors within the proposed “Salansky” gas well site area, as it is called by the company.

“We don’t have the money to put a new well up,” said Stefanie Spezzia. “If the water is contaminated and they can’t fix it, we have nowhere to go.”

EnCana Oil and Gas Inc., which operates from its headquarters in Denver, Colo., has about 8,700 gas wells across the United States. This is the first time the gas company is drilling into the Marcellus, according to Wendy Wiedenbeck, spokeswoman for the eight-year-old natural gas company.

“How safe are we from you polluting our water on your first endeavor?” asked one of the estimated 130 in attendance.

EnCana is attempting to establish a baseline for water quality and quantity conditions by requesting property owners participate in a water sampling assessment, which will be collected by Rettew Associates, a third-party environmental-testing firm based in Lancaster.

Letters were mailed April 8 to landowners located within a mile radius of the well covering Lake and Lehman townships, and Harveys Lake borough.

Wiedenbeck said the gas company would be required by the state to correct water contamination problems.

“We will take every safeguard to not impact your water,” she said to concerned residents.

Wiedenbeck said the company is committed to responsible development and protecting the water by baseline water testing.

But, residents such as the Spezzias and homeowner Libby Davis, who resides with family at their Meeker Outlet Road property just within the well drilling radius, remain skeptical.

Davis, of Lake Township, said she has not signed an access agreement that would allow the collection of water samples.

Township officials voted unanimously on April 13 to allow the company to drill near Peaceful Valley Road.

Jen Marckini, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7210.

Copyright: Times Leader

Landowners learn at gas lease seminars

Experts say leases are in-depth and a lawyer’s assistance is recommended.

By Sheena Delazio
Staff Writer

LEHMAN TWP.— The Penn State Cooperative Extension of Luzerne County and the Luzerne Conservation District want landowners to know what they are getting into before they sign a natural gas lease for their property.

The two organizations will host “Understanding and Negotiating Natural Gas Leases,” as part of a two-day informational discussion. The first session, held on Monday, was attended by more than 70 local landowners.

“It’s a hot topic right now,” said Tanya Dierolf, a conservation coordinator for the conservation district. “The price per acre has increased at a phenomenal rate.”

Typically, leasing companies offer property owners one-eighth of the money made on gas or oil extracted from beneath their properties. Depending on the company, owners can receive hundreds of dollars up front.

“(On Monday) presenters talked about the impact it could have on the land (if someone signed a lease), and there is potential there to make money, but we’re trying to present the facts,” Dierolf said. “These (leases) are very technical, and we highly recommend (landowners) consult an attorney before they make a decision.”

For example, in June, the Pennsylvania Mineral Group based in Port Lavaca, Texas, made up to 700 offers in Luzerne County to purchase gas rights at $300 an acre. Offers were based on geological surveys that pinpoint locations that may contain natural gas or oil.

The Pennsylvania Mineral Group did not return phone calls.

“These lease agreements are so in depth that landowners don’t understand the legality,” said Donna Grey, a Penn State Cooperative Extension educator. “We’re trying to explain what the landowner can expect to occur on their property so they can have an understanding, both visual and written.”

For next week’s session, Penn State Extension educators will be on hand, as well as a geologist and attorney, to talk about understanding gas leases, negotiating a lease, the economic impact of signing a lease and development of the Marcellus shale within the Earth.

Grey said landowners who attend will be able to make better decisions regarding their land. “This could be a good thing or a bad thing (for the landowner),” she said.

“It’s really confusing, and landowners need to use a consultant or attorney to help them. They can negotiate (if they decide to sign). And if they aren’t comfortable, they don’t have to settle on one gas company,” Grey said. “There is more than one company. They are just like any other sales person, they are out there to sell their product.”

If you go…
What: Understanding and Negotiating Natural Gas Leases

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Technology Center, Penn State Wilkes-Barre Campus, Lehman Township

To register: Call 570-825-1701 or 570-674-7991. There is a $15 registration fee per person.

Copyright: Times Leader