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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Potter County Gas Task Force Hears Of ‘Tremendous Potential’

Members of the Potter County Natural Gas Task Force gathered for an organizational meeting Tuesday night that became an two-hour cram course on many aspects of the industry. Guest speaker Douglas E. Kuntz, president and CEO of Pennsylvania General Energy Company of Warren, commended the county commissioners for pulling together people with diverse interests, in recognition of the impact that gas production will have on Potter County for the decades to come.

“The gas industry has tremendous potential for Potter County,” Kuntz said. “Our company is fully committed to moving forward in Potter County and with this industry you’ll find good-paying jobs and economic benefits that project 30 or maybe 40 years into the future.”

pgewell1Much of Tuesday’s dialogue focused on the need to protect private water supplies and public waterways. Kuntz said his company is committed to sound practices and expressed confidence that state laws are in place to protect against environmental damage. He conceded that there are many other gas exploration and production companies involved locally, not all of which may operate in the same manner. To date, PGE has 104 gas wells in Potter County, including six wells that have been drilled to extract gas from the Marcellus shale formation, located much deeper in the ground. He said companies have found vast gas resources within the Marcellus formation, which requires a specialized horizontal drilling process, known as hydrofracturing, that involves millions of gallons of water for each well. Acquiring and treating that water remain one of the greatest challenges facing both the industry and regulators, Kuntz said. (The accompanying photo depicts PGE’s first horizontal Marcellus shale well, which was drilled in Potter County.)

ericbeaverMany task force members expressed concern about the potential environmental impact of increased drilling and production, particularly by those companies whose track records are suspect. They also were disturbed by recent Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection action to reduce the role of county conservation districts in overseeing natural gas operations. District Conservationist Eric Beaver (left) told of one gas operation where brine from a drilling operation was expelled onto the ground, contaminating a high-value wetlands. There was concern among task force members that this could be an early sign of irresponsible behavior that will intensify as the rush on local gas resources begins in earnest later this year.

Tuesday’s discussion also focused on township roads and bridges, taxation, law enforcement, public safety, workforce development and public education. Attending, in addition to Doug Kuntz and Eric Beaver, were Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel, Charlotte Dietrich, Marty Weiss, Dr. Peter Ryan, Dick Ford, Joe Parr, Jim Clark, John McLaughlin, Dave Mashek (representing the gas industry’s Marcellus Shale Committee), David Saulter and Judy Bear.

Additional details will be reported later this week on Potter County Today.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

So now what happens? Did the big 3 pull together a bunch of players to talk, talk, talk. Certainly the man commended the big 3, what was he going to say? Please, give us a break on this committee shi..!