It’s Time for Some Common Sense on Natural Gas

Common Sense on Natural GasHerb Flavell (with pal Shelby)
Gods Knob, Milk Can Corners, Susquehanna County

It’s time for some common sense on natural gas, says this Franklin Township, Susquehanna County landowner who lives amidst considerable drilling activity.

I’m just an 81 year old widower trying to leave something for his kids, grand kids and great grand kids. I have lived on my 25 acres of Pennsylvania Heaven since 1988. The mountain top behind my home is even called Gods Knob, so I have been told. I took 25 acres of an old dairy farm that had not been worked since 1964 and improved it. I improved it so much that the property tax went from less than $600 a year to almost $6,000. For that privilege I have paid almost $150,000 in school, county and township tax. Its time that I receive a return on my investment. It’s time for some common sense on natural gas.

Harvesting Our Natural Gas Is Common Sense

That return on investment is trapped 8,000 feet under my land in the form of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation. I have also been told that below that  is a second shale called the Utica. But, how much of the Utica Shale is below my land I don’t know. I’ll leave that for a geologist. Because of our natural gas glut here, the price of natural gas has dropped from about $8.00 per thousand cubic feet to less than $4.00. So, every gas heating home in America has saved hundreds of dollars a year to heat their homes from our natural gas product.

common sense on natural gas

As I drive around Susquehanna County where I reside (see photo), I’m amazed at its beauty. My drives are mainly in a 4-township area. There are, in that area, are over 174 producing natural gas wells, but you would not know it. Best of all, those wells are producing royalties that landowners are finally using to help raise their children and pay their bills.

Just like beef, dairy and vegetable farmers, we have a product to sell. That product is home grown natural gas. And, because of it, our air is cleaner. Cars and trucks are being converted to clean burning natural gas. We are importing less oil because of that and converting power plants to natural gas from oil. We will also soon become an exporter of our natural gas product. 

Natural gas under my land will allow me to get back some of the $150,000 I paid in taxes for keeping my land “clean and green.” It’s also part of an Agricultural Security Area, is a  Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship property and a National Wildlife Federation Back Yard Habitat.

Opponents claim fracking has ruined our water supply but that is not true. Water has burned here for over 300 years, long before fracking, because we are either lucky or unlucky to live on 515 trillion cubic feet of gas bubble. Now, fracking allows us to several good things. It lowers the price of natural gas for 310 million people. It weans us from the higher and higher prices of gasoline and oil. It weans us from using the coal that poisons our air.

Some Common Sense on Shale Gas, As I See It

There’s more, though, and this is how I look at drilling for natural gas. It’s a win win for everyone. Driller, landowners,business owners and natural gas users – all are winners. Consider these facts about natural gas companies and the industry as a whole:

  1. They create jobs and pay workers that pay income tax.
  2. They pay registration fees for vehicles.
  3. They pay motor fuels taxes.
  4. They pay for a permits to withdraw water (regenerated when gas is burned).
  5. They pay for storm water permits for well pads.
  6. They pay for well drilling permits.
  7. They pay lease bonuses to landowners.
  8. They pay royalties to landowners.
  9. They pay corporate income taxes to the Commonwealth.
  10. They pay corporate income taxes to the Federal government.
  11. Landowners pay state tax on royalty income.
  12. Landowners pay state taxes on lease income.
  13. Landowners pay Federal taxes on royalty income.
  14. Landowners pay Federal taxes on lease income.
  15. Gas companies spend hundred of millions of dollars to upgrade roads they use (something the state gets 41.8 cents a gallon to do).
  16. Gas companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars in impact fees that go the every county in Commonwealth.

Now, some politicians say they want an extraction tax even though they already collect all those impact and other fees and taxes. This tax, of course, will be paid by consumers and landowners on to whom it gets passed, but you wouldn’t know it from the television commercials.

What will they think of next as a way to squander what natural gas has given us and is still giving us? It’s time for a lot more common sense on natural gas.

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10 thoughts on “It’s Time for Some Common Sense on Natural Gas

  1. Herb, I’m sympathetic to your property tax plight but wonder if your proposed solution is a good one. Unlike crops or other sustainable activity, the natural gas that is supposedly under your 25 acres is a one-time resource. It may today be worth something to drillers, but do you know the average Marcellus gas well sees a 65-percent drop in production over the first 3 years with further declines of 8 percent per year after that. That projects to a useful life of less than eight years. Then what? What are you leaving for your kids, grand kids, and great grand kids? They will still be faced with the taxes. The only other thing I can imagine that would provide such a damaging, short-term gain would be to scrape off and sell the top soil, which is another one-time gift.

    I’m not sure why you would want to plunder those acres just for a couple years of extra income. I’d think you would want to take steps to make the property self-supporting. If farming or dairy no longer works, maybe Gods Knob would be a good place for a wind turbine – something that can generate perpetual income.

  2. Herb, for a guy 81 years young, you’re wise beyond your years. That is a very concise well written piece, and directly to the point. And to Mr Goudey’s point, a well may not even be necessary on your property to extract the gas. If the operator has to locate on your property, modern directional well pad sites can be placed wherever you want them to, taking up maybe 4 acres, probably less after reclamation. And then you might have enough money to put up your own wind turbine and sell that energy too. Win-win-win!

    • Well pads are not always placed to the landowners liking .The gas co’s make the decision and the placement of pad and gathering lines .Only way to make this possible would be in a lease with specific language .

  3. You say you want to get back your investment on the taxes you have paid over the years. Well, that money has already paid its dividends by funding our school, police, fire departments, roads and much more. That is the American way. We all pay our share to keep this country safe and educated. Why are you so special that you feel you deserve to get it back? Should everybody American be on a quest to get back the taxes they paid over the years? People with gas under them have superiority complexes feeling that they warrant the right to squeeze the earth for every last resource – for money. If you didn’t have the gas under you how would you feel? Sure, everyone wants money and everyone wants to leave something for their kids – but very few do and we have survived. You will end up paying more taxes in the along run – then will your kids feel they deserve to get that back. Face it, natural gas drilling benefits only a few…the oil companies, the landowners and the Texans who relocate to work the rigs.

    • “Natural gas drilling only benefits a few” you say. That’s a stunning display of ignorance, Jennifer. You have obviously never visited Susquehanna County.

  4. What a crock of BS. If you want to see whos getting paid to protest fracking go to Craigslist click on jobs then do a search in the search bar simply by typing in Fracking… notice the jobs that are part time yet pay up to $1000.00 a week are only for anti fracking positions AND NOT ONE PRO FRACKING PAID POSITION IS OFFERED…

  5. again- 3 reliably condescending regular anti posters yapping away here, each of whom is undoubtedly a fossil fuel consuming hypocrite. you fractivists are not making any converts, rest assured, and are badly disconnected from the day to day realities of global energy production. those of us considering leasing our land know what the deal is and that the benefits far outweigh the risks. our mineral rights are currently worthless in NY however (the only place in the nation, btw) , thanks to years of Park Foundation et al propaganda and the corrupt narcissist running this state.

    incredibly, anti’s have no ethical dilemma when it comes to gassing up the car, turning up the thermostat, and taking a hot shower. why are Cornell and Ithaca College not plastered with solar panels? imagine the outcry if Iberdrola wanted to erect a few dozen 300′ wind turbines in Cayuga Heights…

    there are already some 14,000 gas wells in NY. where is the death and disease? nowhere, that’s where. like the pragmatic gentleman who penned the above article, i will not be made to feel guilty for wanting to responsibly capitalize on a legitimate asset that has decades of historical and legal precedent. NG is actually cleaning the air relative to coal, and is improving the nation’s economy, industrial base, and security.

  6. Pingback: It’s Time for Some Common Sense on Natural Gas | ShaleNOW

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