Welcome to Solid Shale, neighbor!

Solid Shale is a space in the blogosphere to help orient New York State citizens to the rapidly-changing landscape in the areas of the state under which the Marcellus Shale runs.  The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation that contains natural gas– natural gas that, until recently, was considered too expensive to extract.

In the past few years, however, a new technology has been applied to aid in the extraction of natural gas from deep shale rock formations.  To what extent this technology, known as horizontal drilling and hydrofracking (or “slick-water hydrofracking,” or “fracking”) makes the extraction of the natural gas cost effective at current market rates for natural gas depends upon many factors.  Some of these factors are strictly market-based (example: at what price can the mineral rights to land be leased for gas exploration?).  Other factors are highly dependent upon regulatory and legal requirements (example:  are gas exploration companies constrained from using all the water in a stream or aquifer for hydrofracking purposes, meaning they must ship in additional water from off-site?).

Those factors that are up to federal, state and local governments to determine should, ideally, be judiciously deliberated, with the best interests of the people always in the forefront of public servants’ thoughts.  However, in a democracy in which powerful special interests can have undue influence on the political process, the public needs to keep an eye on how its governments carry out work on their behalf.  Solid Shale is intended to provide a space for you to get a good view of what is happening in your governments related to Marcellus Shale development and hydrofracking, and provide a means to exchange comments with your neighbors around the state about what it all means, and what we should do about it.