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.

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Pro-drilling county targets gas trade group

When the Marcellus Shale gas boom was taking off, Bradford County welcomed it with open arms. With more than 1,000 active wells, this region in north-central Pennsylvania became one of the most heavily drilled places in the state. But the enthusiasm turned to anger, and many people now allege they’re being cheated out of royalty money [...]

Township moves to halt gas production, citing anger over royalties

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What happens after the boom?


Four years ago StateImpact Pennsylvania visited Towanda to see how the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom was changing the pace of life. We returned this year to see what happened after the rigs left town. Watch our latest video, After the Boom.

Study: Shale gas related water contamination top-down, not bottom-up

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Study shows increased hospitalizations in Pennsylvania shale gas region

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Pennsylvania case studies mirror EPA’s national fracking report

A federal investigation into links between fracking and drinking water contamination in Bradford and Susquehanna Counties found some private water wells had been damaged by methane and ethane migration caused by nearby fracking. But the report found no evidence that homeowners’ private water wells and springs had been affected by frack fluids or waste water. In [...]

Critics say EPA fracking study offers little to advance public debate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s long-awaited report on fracking and drinking water is short on new research, and avoids discussing some high-profile cases where gas development is alleged to have contaminated water, analysts said. The report, issued on June 4, some four years after the EPA began its investigation, was immediately hailed by both the [...]

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 [...]

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