Yesterday was International Rock Flipping Day, and, close to sunset, I remembered to join the fun. Technical difficulties with my camera batteries postponed my report until today.
In contrast to last year, there was much more moisture in the ground, so this time I found a "fish worm." Last year, I found more interesting things on rocks and in rocks than under them. There is plenty of biodiversity within the rocks here on Droop Mountain, as you can see in these photos.
What's in the rocks is the Pocahontas County topic of the day, because, like much of Appalachian Pennsylvania and New York state, the Marcellus shale underlies us. There is renewed interest in drilling and extracting natural gas from this very deep layer, and speculators are contacting people here, offering to buy or lease mineral rights.
Our ridge lacks enough level ground to make drilling here feasible, so no one is trying to get us to sell anything; however, it concerns us because the extraction process for these deep gas deposits involves forcing vast quantities of water into and then out of the wells. Water is a limited resource, and disposal of the contaminated water can be a problem.
I've been reading as much as I can about the issue, and I have here my usual list of links in case you want to read further. Whether or not Pocahontas land owners decide to sell or lease, most of the mineral rights in our county are already controlled by forces outside the County. Monongahela National Forest is administered by the U.S. Forest Service, but the federal government only owns part of those mineral rights. Some of the early 20th century logging companies retained their mineral rights when they sold the government their land.
- Drilling deep to find natural gas by Brynn Kusick, July 23 in The Pocahontas Times
- Gas rush on in Pocahontas County by Brynn Kusik, July 17, 2008
- Water quality the issue in gas exploration
- Oil and Gas Accountability Project
- Appalachia tantalizes natural gas drillers from The USA Today, By Genaro C. Armas, Associated Press, February 3, 2008
- Frenzy to stake claims on U.S. natural gas prospects