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A multi-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Cincinnati, and partly funded by organizations opposed to natural gas development, found no groundwater contamination from Utica shale development in Ohio.  Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, said, “The study was based on the hypothesis that natural gas methane concentration would increase as the number of shale gas wells in the study area increased. However, the results were just the opposite. We can add this report to the pile of twenty or more similar studies showing no threat to groundwater from shale gas operations.” The study, entitled “Monitoring concentration and isotopic composition of methane in groundwater in the Utica Shale hydraulic fracturing region of Ohio”, involved collecting data from 25 water wells in Carroll, Harrison, Stark, Belmont and Columbiana counties in Ohio – areas with a high propensity of natural gas development – between 2012 and 2015. According to the report:

West Virginia is at the center of a massive shift within the global energy markets that will profoundly reorder the state’s economy for generations to come.

Its impact is already being realized in the natural gas industry, whereby West Virginia-based operations are now producing so much dry methane and natural gas liquids (NGLs) that they are both being exported internationally.

Recent one-sided Gazette-Mail articles, written in partnership with the advocacy publication ProPublica, mislead readers by failing to emphasize how the region’s flourishing natural gas market benefits West Virginia: It has put thousands of local workers back to work, saved families and provided a paycheck where there wasn’t one.

Regional production of cleaner-burning natural gas has also improved the environment; generated record quantities of affordable, reliable fuel and electricity; mass-produced jobs in energy and non-energy fields; and helped businesses of varying sectors, from grocery stores to hotels — all while providing family-supporting wages that pay down mortgages, buy food and fill prescriptions.

Attempting to draw parallels between West Virginia’s thriving natural gas industry and the region’s history of coal production, a recent article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail functions more as an anti-natural gas development scare tactic than objective piece of investigative journalism. As the first in a series of West Virginia-focused articles in partnership with New York City-based advocacy outlet ProPublica, the piece inaccurately frames the region’s natural gas development as something to fear rather than celebrate.

To understand the extent to which this article missed the mark about the state’s natural gas development, let’s breakdown some the article’s key claims:

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