Seeing Is Believing: Don’t Believe the Fractivists!

NEPA Energy - Johnny Williams Johnny Williams
Freelance Journalist


Fractivists’ scare tactics are no match for the simple facts and what anyone visiting the Marcellus Shale fields of Pennsylvania can see with their own eyes.

There’s really not much of a better time to visit Pennsylvania than right now. The chilly mornings typically give way to perfectly comfortable afternoons while the Fall foliage continues its seasonal color show. It dawned on me while driving over a natural gas gathering line site, where yellow and red trees draped over each side of the lushly green pathway, just how much Pennsylvania remains a favorite destination during the Autumn months.

As someone that has grown up in rural Pennsylvania, I admit to sometimes taking it for granted. I see this scenery every day, and it took a recent visit by London’s Nick Grealy, publisher of Natural Gas 2.0No Hot Air and Shale Gas Info – someone seeing for himself the actual impact of natural gas to rural Pennsylvania – to remind me of that.


A natural gas gathering line in Bradford County.

For those who aren’t familiar, Grealy is a regular contributor to Natural Gas Now and is part of a venture called London Local Energy, which has applied for a drilling license in London, U.K. He made the trip to Pennsylvania to see how the natural gas has affected the state, and I had the chance to meet him during Williams BBQ Cook-off, where he offered this:

“I came to see the reality of drilling, and to tell you the truth, I’m not seeing much. It’s like there’s nothing going on here.”

He wasn’t disappointed by the relative lack of activity that he was expecting, in fact his exuberance was difficult to hide.

“For every ten natural gas protestors we see in the UK, nine of them would not be worried about London gas development if they saw what was happening in Pennsylvania. There’s been the occasional truck traffic and I’ve seen a few pads, but the scenery here is beautiful and it’s very difficult to see the visual impacts, and this is one of the largest gas fields in the world.”

The trip to Pennsylvania was part of his mission with London Local Energy (LLE), which this blog has previously covered here and here. Grealy, in one of those posts, observed the following.

“What was once called unconventional gas is innovative and counterintuitive by definition. Just like LLE. We aim to make London an example for the many other urban areas in the world lucky enough to have oil and gas resources beneath them.”

Grealy’s story of visiting Pennsylvania is not a new one. The difference between hearing what is happening here in Pennsylvania and seeing what is actually going on are often polar opposites. For starters, it happened to me personally a few years ago the first time I visited Dimock. Even though I already knew the nightmare stories I had heard from the likes of Josh Fox and others were not true, I couldn’t help but notice Dimock looked much the same as the rest of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Around that same time frame New York Senator Tom Reed visited Pennsylvania for much the same purpose as Grealy. They had arrived at the location in Bradford County pictured below, and when I pointed out the well pad, one of Reed’s aides exclaimed, “That’s it?! That’s all it is?”


Find them…there is a well pad and three natural gas gathering lines in the hillside of this picture.

Since his visit, three gathering lines have been constructed and are contained on the hillside in the picture. Take all the time you want if you want to try to find them.

There are similar stories with out-of-state family and friends. One friend of the family in New Jersey even went so far as to call my parents to see if everything was okay because he had seen a news report on TV about flammable water in Pennsylvania.

These instances might be humorous on the surface, but it’s also a testament to how successful the scare tactics have been in affecting the viewpoints of people that have not experienced shale gas development. As Nick Grealy learned however, it is still the same rural countryside it has always been.

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