Saturday, October 15, 2011

NY Times: Rural Communities Worry About Risk in Shadow of Gas Boom

Posted By on Sat, Oct 15, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Today's New York Times profiles a rural community revitalized by a gas drilling boom but reeling from its risks.

No, it's not western Idaho where Bridge Resources has become the first explorer to successfully drill at seven of 11 sites in Payette County. Rather, it's eastern Pennslvania, which swung its doors open to natural gas exploration when its economy turned sour.

Here's an excerpt:

"But the boom—brought on by advanced drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing known as fracking—has brought problems, too. While the gas companies have created numerous high-paying drilling jobs, many residents lack the skills for them. Some people's drinking water has been contaminated. Narrow country roads are crumbling under the weight of heavy trucks. With housing scarce and expensive, more residents are becoming homeless. Local servies and infrastructure are strained."

"What happens in the long run is the critical question," Kathy Briaser, associate professor of rural sociology at Penn State told the Times. "How can communities take advantage of the benefits and try to mitigate the negative issues so that they are well-positioned for when this does tail off?"

Meanwhile, Idaho's process of introducing new rules to oversee gas exploration is moving closer to reality. Following last Wednesday's public hearing on proposed rules, written testimony will continue to be accepted until Wednesday, Oct. 26. The proposed rules are expected to be turned in to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission at its November meeting.

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