Marcellus Shale Source of Clean Energy

Morgantown Dominion Post
28 November 2008
Guest Commentary By William K. Overby

I am aware that the opinion page is the proper place for people to express their opinions on a variety of concerns to the general public; but [letter writers] including false and or misleading information is not the way to influence people or sway their opinion.

Dr. Pamela C. Dodds in her guest commentary (DP-Nov. 9) seems to be saying that developing a natural gas resource that is most likely one of the largest natural gas resources in the United States; will bring down all sorts of contamination of our environment as industry people go about the business of developing a resource that will, literally put billions of dollars in the hands of people in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

With the reasonable development of a natural resource that could well provide all of the natural gas this nation will consume over a 10-year period. It will take a few (three or four) years just to develop the infrastructure to support the recovery of this gas.

New pipelines will have to be laid to carry the gas to market. Several water clean-up and recovery plants will have to be built so the water can be recycled and used over and over again. When a well is drilled all of the cuttings are trapped in a plastic lined pit and buried when the well is done. Any hazardous metallic compounds are trapped and buried. Water that is used in drilling is contained in steel containers where it can be treated.

This water almost never gets in to local drainage, and if an accidental spill occurs, it is cleaned up right away.

Dodds insinuates that serious harm will be done to the environment and workers on the pumping machinery that is used to perform hydraulic frac jobs.

If Dobbs ever gets around to visiting a Marcellus drilling rig, she would see first hand that the sand contained in the hoppers is used in a closed-pressure system.

Dr. Dobbs is really naive if she really believes that all of the methane that comes from radioactive shale is itself radioactive and dangerous to consumers who use it.

If Dodds want to oppose drilling of an important natural resource, or the use of solar or wind energy as a future method of providing clean energy to the world’s population, that is her prerogative, but please don’t mislead people about problems of the release of harmful radiation to the public.

If what you claimed was true, then most of the people who have lived in Appalachia during the last 90 years would have suffered the effects of harmful radiation.

I have had a very satisfying career over the last 48 years; first as a researcher for 20 years and as a practicing petroleum geologist with several West Virginia oil and gas companies for 28 years.

During that period I supervised the drilling of 96 oil and gas wells, several of them producing gas from the Marcellus shale. I have not been poisoned or radiated with a long history of exposure.

The truth is out there, I hope you find it Dr. Dodds.

William K. Overby is a retired certified geologist who lives in Morgantown. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.