Energy. Environment. Economy.


A truck drives through Towanda, Bradford County

Pennsylvania's Busiest Drilling County: Bradford


More wells have been drilled in Bradford County than any other county in Pennsylvania.

The shale boom has profoundly changed Bradford County’s towns, bringing a population boom, driving up rents and filling hotel rooms. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, it was nearly impossible to find an empty hotel room in Bradford County. The county took in more than $8 million in 2012 impact fee revenue, too.

Bradford’s boom began to slow down this year, though. As natural gas prices declined, energy companies shifted their attention to Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, where the gas contains profitable byproducts like ethane and butane. The focus on “wet gas” caused the rate of drilling to slow down in Bradford County – that means more hotel rooms and less traffic on its congested roads, among other changes.

Many landowners, especially struggling dairy farmers, have benefited from leasing their land to the gas industry. But several people in Bradford County have seen their private water wells contaminated by stray methane gas.

One small Bradford County township, Leroy, experienced a methane migration problemacid spill and well blowout during a 15-month window.

Some Bradford County landowners have also recently started to complain about the amount of deductions drillers take from their monthly royalty checks. Most of the complaints have been focused on Chesapeake Energy, which is one of the most active companies in the county.

The controversy over check deductions lead to a state Senate hearing on the issue in June. Several lawmakers have said they want to revisit Pennsylvania’s Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979, to ensure landowners are getting paid properly.

Latest Posts

Study: Lower than expected air pollutants detected at Marcellus drilling sites

An article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, published today, says measurements of air pollution from Marcellus drilling and transportation sites in Bradford and Sullivan counties were lower than the researchers expected. The study, “Atmosphere Emission Characterization of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development Sites,” also reports levels of methane emissions were higher than those indicated [...]

New study links gas drilling to water contamination in NE Pa.

New research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows evidence of a connection between gas drilling and water contamination that occurred in Bradford County in 2010. The researchers used a new method of testing for contaminants that can detect much smaller amounts of chemicals than the instruments typically used in commercial [...]

Changing climate changing forests: How best to help Pennsylvania’s woods

In a 19th-century farmhouse deep in northern Pennsylvania’s Bradford County, Nancy Baker is looking at family photos dating back four generations. One shows her grandfather with a team of horses on clear cut land. Another shows her mother and aunt on the same farm as a small child. Baker also has a series of aerial [...]

Southwestern Energy fined for drilling unpermitted wells in Bradford County

Southwestern Energy Production company will have to pay $128,031 for drilling five unpermitted Marcellus Shale gas wells in Bradford County. The state Department of Environmental Protection announced the fine today after the Houston, Texas company continued to drill even after the DEP issued a “notice of violation” in January 2013. Southwestern Energy has 229 active [...]

Bradford County commissioners ask feds to investigate Chesapeake Energy

Bradford County’s three commissioners have reached out to the federal Department of Justice, seeking its help investigating allegations gas driller Chesapeake Energy is cheating Pennsylvania landowners out of royalty money. As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported, residents there have been complaining about the issue for more than a year and say they’re disappointed with what [...]

Pennsylvania shale production continued to grow in 2013

Pennsylvania’s annual gas production swelled last year, with drilling companies pulling 3.1 trillion cubic feet of gas from the Marcellus Shale and other unconventional formations in 2013, according to new data released by the state. The production data is reported by operators and is not verified before it is posted online by the Department of [...]

Pa. towns with no zoning rules unlikely to limit gas drilling

It seemed like a game-changer late last year when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court restored the power of local communities to limit natural gas development within their borders. After all, three out of every five municipalities on the Marcellus Shale have zoning laws to that would apply. However, in the state’s rural Northern Tier, where drilling [...]

Top 10 stories of 2013: DEP tries to suppress study, Chesapeake layoffs hit home

As we continue our 2013 top ten countdown, today’s stories feature Chesapeake Energy’s massive layoffs and the controversy surround an attempt by the DEP’s Policy Office to suppress a peer-reviewed scientific paper. 6. Chesapeake Energy layoffs hit Bradford County In August, Chesapeake Energy’s corporate restructuring lead to layoffs in the company’s busiest hub of its Pennsylvania [...]

Despite abundant supply, natural gas slow to catch on as transportation fuel

The most recent Marcellus shale production numbers were record-breaking.  If Pennsylvania keeps up this pace, it will be producing enough gas to supply more than 10 percent of what the entire country uses in a year. And with this glut, there are efforts to find new markets for the gas— especially in transportation. Compressed natural [...]

New Bill To Address Royalty Concerns Would Require Monthly Gas Production Reports

A Bradford County lawmaker thinks twice a year isn’t enough for landowners who want to know what they’re getting from gas production on their leases. Rep. Tina Pickett (R) is proposing a bill that would require gas well owners to file production reports on a monthly basis. More from the Scranton Times-Tribune: Well operators provide [...]

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