The old Roman generals' name is becoming fairly popular today, Marcus Claudius Marcellus. Marcus lived from 268 to 208 B.C. He was killed in a battle, and then, largely forgotten for centuries except by military historians.
The old soldiers' popularity was raised a few notches when Onondaga County in central New York State was established in 1794. Tracts of wilderness land were then set aside for those who fought in the Revolution. Shortly afterwards, a surveyor, Simeon Dewitt, named one of those military tracts, Marcellus, after the old Roman General, and the town of Marcellus, New York was born. The first residents arrived that year; they built cabins, a school and a church, a general store and a tavern.
Marcellus was a sleepy rural town in 1839 when geologist James Hall called a geological formation of organic rich black rocks after the town: the Marcellus Shale. But the village of Marcellus was at the edge of the 450 million year old formation. From New York, through Pennsylvania and well into West Virginia and areas of Tennessee, throughout much of Appalachia, the ancient geological formation is about vast and enormous quantities of natural gas.
The gas is a bonanza of sorts for the energy starved eastern United States. Pennsylvania, rich in Marcellus Gas deposits, is the keystone state for delivery. Large gas lines from Texas and Oklahoma already criss-cross the state heading towards the east coast.
Water, however, is even more important than gas pipelines for transportation and Pennsylvania has a lot of water. The state has more miles of fresh water streams than any other state except Alaska. A Marcellus Gas well uses on the average an estimated 3.5 million gallons for drilling and a process called “fracking”.
Drilling companies generally go deep into the earth between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, then drill horizontally for upwards of two miles to tap into a gas pocket. Once the drilling is completed. Water is blasted through the pipes along with other ingredients including some toxic chemical to fracture (fracking) the shale to release the gas.
Fracking and water quality have been two areas of major concern for many communities and there have been some serious problems. Rivers and streams have been contaminated with toxic water, a threat to clean drinking water and fishing; there have been explosions, and in at least one case, cattle have been quarantined because they drank the contaminated water. Concerns have also been raised about property values and the forests known for their quality hardwood timber and hunting.
New York State has placed a one year moratorium on any new Marcellus Gas drilling and later this year the Pennsylvania Legislature will likely impose new regulations and new taxes on the gas companies. The estimated value of the gas stands at an amazing $2 trillion and counting. It makes the oil fields of Saudi Arabia look somewhat like child's play in financial markets. Besides, environmentally gas is better than either coal or oil.
If Alaska can write oil royalty checks to it's residents, why can't the Appalachian states write similar gas royalty checks?
Marcellus might have been an old Roman general, but the new Marcellus has many unknown risks and riches. Will the new Marcellus be killed like the ancient namesake or can the Marcellus Gas be handled and drilled wisely and safely?
Cabot Oil and Gas – Marcellus Problems
A Houston Texas based company was found responsible for contaminating the drinking water in Dimock, Pennsylvania. The company was fined $250,000 and ordered to install safe drinking water for the small northeastern Pennsylvania. Methane gas was not properly tapped in the Marcellus wells being drilled in the area. The company was ordered to immediately repair the wells and shut some of them down.
Hazardous waste material from several Cabot Marcellus wells also escaped and resulted in a significant fish kill in a nearby stream. John Hanger, the states chief environment officer, called the company “one of the worst”. Some of the fluids used in the fracking process used were supplied by
Dimock isn't the only Pennsylvania town to deal with water contamination; many others have had their share of problems including Bradford. Nor is
the only company facing charges and fines in the rush for the gas.
Just a word of caution; gas well drilling isn't all fun and landowner fortunes. Reasonable people don't want a “deepwater horizon” in Pennsylvania.
A Marcellus gas well, two miles below the surface might be a good place to quarantine the late blight fungus which
continues to spread
in many eastern states and Canada. In Pennsylvania, the late blight has been discovered in the central regions of the state. The late blight will kill
and potatoes but is not harmful to humans.
Now is the time, if no blight has been discovered, to take some steps to help prevent the fungus. Once the blight arrives, action is useless.
Fall Vegetable Garden
July is gone, welcome August...and new gardens. This is a great month to think about
to extend the harvest and save money. There is still plenty of time for many crops in the backyard.
August can be a great month; many wildflowers are blooming including the
which are fascinating plants and a good source of food for
bees and other pollinators
August is generally harvest month for many backyard gardeners. Sometimes, the excess gets to be just a little too much to deal handle, so here are a
During the harvest season, be sure to support your local farms. In many cases, they grow and sell organic foods which are
healthier and more nutritious
. Sure, a Marcellus Gas well can spew dirty contaminated water but pesticides also remain in many fruit and vegetables which are traditionally found in supermarkets.
Hunt of a Lifetime
Hunt of a Lifetime
is a non-profit group of people are are dedicated to helping young people, who are facing serious health problems, go on a fish or hunt trip. If you would like to learn more, or help, here is some
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