Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Natural Gas Boom Poses Challenges for Municipalities

The natural gas boom in Pennsylvania is posing new challenges for municipal officials. Drilling rigs and other heavy equipment have destroyed roads. Some residents also say the noisy operations cause a disturbance 24 hours a day. Municipal officials are also considering lease offers from several gas companies, but many of them have not negotiated these types of deals before. Their constituents are getting similar offers, and are looking to local leaders for advice.

A workshop tomorrow will address some of those challenges. The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors is connecting township officials in nine counties with state officials via video uplink. Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection and PennDoT are among those who will participate.

Drilling in Pennsylvania is booming because of renewed interest in the Marcellus shale formation. The shale is deep underground in much of Pennsylvania as well as parts of New York, West Virginia and Ohio. Its presence has been known for years, but high energy prices and newer technology have made it increasingly attractive as a source of natural gas. Many gas companies are offering huge signing bonuses plus royalties to homeowners who allow drilling on their property.

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