As you know I am big BIG advocate for proactive thinking. I have been spending my down time looking for ways for small communities to prepare for the Marcellus Shale Development. I found this article and it offered an interesting insight into a few people's lives that are living the drilling boom.
Small town scrambles to adapt to Marcellus Shale drilling boom
By Caitlin Burnham
The groaning of these trucks drowns out a church bell marking the hour, and the traffic looks strange against the small-town backdrop and the quaint black street lamps on Main Street. These massive trucks are a sign of a massive change - the extraction of natural gas from a geological formation nearly a mile below the surface.
Tioga County, where Wellsboro is located, saw 42 wells drilled in 2009 by the largest drilling company in the area, East/Shell Appalachia. The company expects to sink an additional 200 wells this year.
Natural gas extraction is occurring all over the country, but the rugged northern tier, including Tioga County, is at the epicenter of Pennsylvania's drilling.
This boom in natural resource extraction is nothing new to Pennsylvania. From oil to coal, Pennsylvania has been the home of resources much in demand. However, the size and scale of Marcellus Shale drilling has never been seen before, said Kathy Brasier, an assistant professor of rural psychology at Penn State.
"The scale of the Marcellus, both in terms of what it takes to develop a particular well and the number of wells they're doing in a particular region all at once -- it's unprecedented," Brasier said. "It's just so different, the number of workers it takes for a single well, the amount of truck traffic, the materials, all of the stuff that goes with it."
Natural gas drilling is taking place in some areas like Tioga County, where 12.6 percent of families live in poverty, and it is lifting some of the people of these towns into newfound prosperity through leasing of property, royalties from drilling, and increased business in hotels, restaurants and shops. Over the years, many towns that popped up around oil and coal mining areas became ghost towns or near-ghost towns after the resources dried up. And sociologists are studying ways to prevent the same thing from happening after the natural gas is gone.
Brasier described a Penn State Cooperative Extension pilot program being developed called Marcellus and Beyond, which will try to get community leaders to look at drilling as a way to help diversify their economy and invest in education and public resources such as parks.
"We're trying to help communities think about this as a blip -- a huge blip, no doubt -- but as a blip within their history of multiple types of economic development and how they can use this as a means to improve their future," Brasier said.
Some people in Wellsboro have already begun planning. Like it or not, the introduction of Marcellus Shale drilling will mean changes. Here is a glimpse of those who have already experienced change.
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