Cumberland Times-News

March 19, 2013

It’s easy money, but you wind up losing

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— In the recent Times-news article, “Western Maryland supports fracking studies” Opinion Works conducted a poll demonstrating those of Western Maryland (Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties) supports continued studies of the fracking issue.

In two Times-News polls, it was demonstrated that it was approximately 73 percent against and 24 percent for fracking in Maryland. The Times-News poll was not a “pick and choose poll.”

Fracking at its present technological level, Western Maryland residents (Allegany and Garrett counties) are squarely against it. We have the fracking related accident reports of other states to learn from. Let the technology be developed for safe drilling. Why the hurry to drill?

I had recently talked with a gentleman from southern Somerset County in Pennsylvania who had a gas well drilled on his property. He was, to put it mildly, “displeased” with the gas company and the driller.

His well was drilled and capped, thus no royalty. He was promised free gas from the well to use on his farm. Never happened. The well pad destroyed some of his field beyond the projected area to be effected by the well. They left a sumped area which is now a mosquito breeding area.

I suggested seeking legal council, but in reality, the gas companies pockets reach the center of the Earth and his are only a few inches deep. Money talks.

He said he welcomed them in the beginning. Now if they return, they will be welcomed by something other than himself.

Times are hard and for farmers who want natural gas wells on their property for the lease and royalty monies, it is easy money to many.

 Lose a couple of acres for a well head or two, no big deal. It is a risk worth taking for many farmers since their farms are already or near jeopardy.

“Pray for the best and expect the worst” best describes a gas well drilled and fracked on your property.

The testing (sampling) of water wells in Western Maryland have been in Garrett County.

These lie above the coal beds for the most part, where methane and ethane would logically be detected.

In the western part of Allegany County where gas wells are being proposed, water wells should be tested there also. I suggest below the Greenbrier formation, of which many wells reach that depth. Jennings Run and Red Hill areas would be two good testing sites.

The Maryland Dormant Minerals Interest Act of 2010 was a “rape” of the legal owners of mineral rights. Mineral right researchers and land agents benefited greatly from this act since mineral rights research become extremely simplified.

Just deal with the present owner of the property. Families with mineral rights held over a century lost those rights due to this Act. Bluntly put, it is easier to deal with one person than to deal with a family of numerous people.

In closing, the ban on fracking has been “shot in the foot.”

The recent University of Maryland study has pros and cons within the report. Of course, we will not all agree on the content of the 172 page document.

The “pro-frackers” have not given up, nor has the gas companies. One thing to think about for those who have not sold their mineral rights, if fracking is not allowed in Maryland in the near future, it most certainly will be when the Marcellus gas reserves dry up in 10 to 15 years.

Then your mineral rights will be “greatly valued” and you could name your price.

Don Carns Jr.

Beans Cove, Pa.