Donald Roessler earns royalties for the natural gas produced from the shale beneath his farm in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
The leaseholder is happy with the operations, which allow him to grow crops right by the well site. "There's a lot of gas under us, and we might be looking at someday where we're all driving our cars running on natural gas," he says.
To hear Roessler in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.
High school history teacher Chris Hallowich and his wife, Stephanie, an accountant, built a new home on fallow farmland in Hickory, Pennsylvania, only to find themselves soon surrounded by natural gas development.
They no longer drink their well water and fear pollutants in the air they breathe. "It’s ruined our plans that we had for the kids," Chris says. "It’s ruined what we thought was our perfect ten acres.”
To hear the Hallowiches in their own words, click on "Play Video" above.
Paul Battista, owner of Sunnyside Supply store in Slovan, Pennsylvania, retooled his business to cater to the new gas industry.
Sales have doubled and inventory has tripled, with shelves now stocked with fire-resistant clothing, filters, valves and measurement tools needed in gas processing. "I really don't believe that it's going to be a five- or six-year short stint," he says. "It's going to be long-term and multi-generation."
To hear Battista in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.
Ron Gulla leased his farmland in Hickory, Pennsylvania, to the gas industry at a low price two years before the first Marcellus shale drilling began.
He has been unhappy with the impact of drilling on his own property and the surrounding countryside, and he has watched other landowners reap far more money than he made per acre, as the price escalated with the gas boom. "Pennsylvania will never be what it was. It will never look the way that it did," he says.
To hear Gulla in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.
William Zagorski, vice president of geology for Range Resources, led the initiative to drill the first natural gas well in the Marcellus shale in 2004.
He realized that the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, then being pioneered in Texas, could unlock the potential of the much larger formation in the northeast. "This has been the most significant oil and gas find I've ever seen in my whole career," he says. "It's been years since fields of that size have been found in the United States."
To hear Zagorski in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.
Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, a Democrat, has pressed for federal regulation of the shale gas industry.
Casey says because of his state's long history of environmental problems left by its coal industry, he wants to ensure that the new wave of fossil fuel producers are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and are required to disclose the chemicals used in their processes. "We have both a state example in our history, but we also have more recent national example in the Gulf of when an industry is able to overwhelm the ability of government to regulate and put rules in place," he says.
To hear Casey in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.
Beverly Romanetti, whose family leased farmland in Hickory, Pennsylvania, for gas drilling, sees positive change brought to Washington County by the new industry.
The well site, which took three to five acres (1.2 to 2 hectares) of the family's approximately 150-acre (60-hectare) cattle farm, has caused no problems, and in fact, her family started a new business fixing roads, building fences and doing other jobs for the gas industry. "What they have given back to every inch of this county is amazing," she says. "People should embrace them."
To hear Romanetti in her own words, click on "Play Video" above.
Conrad Dan Volz, director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, believes there should be a moratorium on shale gas drilling until more science is done.
Although some have focused on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, he believes there hasn't been enough scrutiny of the compounds pulled out of the shale layer, or the air quality impact of the new gas operations. “If any new industry moved into an area and wanted to build a factory, they would have to submit all these environmental plans,” he says. “This industry, because it’s more diffuse over such a large geographic area, has avoided getting that kind of scrutiny."
To hear Volz in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.
U.S. Representative Tim Murphy, a Republican whose district includes some of the first and most active Marcellus Shale drilling sites, helped found the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus.
He believes that U.S. energy policy should support greater use of natural gas in electricity generation and transportation, because of the benefits of a cleaner environment and new jobs. "This is a mechanism by which we can have a clean source of energy and do it right and help our economy in massive ways," he says.
To hear Murphy in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.
Lee Zavislak, of Amity, Pennsylvania, is training to be a commercial truck driver—one of the hottest jobs in the market, due to the shale gas drilling.
She has mixed feelings about the new energy business, as someone who is looking for work in a tough economy but who has loved the peace and quiet of her rural community. "I think short-term, it's a very, very good thing, it will provide a lot of jobs, a lot of people will make a lot of money," she says. "But there's health risks. There's big damage to our environment. Nobody can really predict what the damage is going to be."
To hear Zavislak in her own words, click on "Play Video" above.
Matt Pitzarella, a Canonsburg, Pennsylvania native, is Range Resources' chief liaison with communities in his home state on the company's Marcellus shale operations. Range is based in Fort Worth, Texas, but has its roots in the Appalachian Mountain basin--which led to its drilling of the first shale gas well in the Marcellus in 2004.
Pitzarella says his company is working to demonstrate environmental stewardship by voluntarily disclosing its chemical use, by reusing its drilling wastewater and by reclaiming land after wells are drilled. “This is far too important and too great of an opportunity to not get it right,” he says.
To hear Pitzarella in his own words, click on "Play Video" above.