Appalachian Basin

Natural Gas, Little League and a Vote4Energy

I am so proud to say that I am from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The city is the home of the Little League World Series, an event where for the next couple of weeks our community comes alive and opens our arms to people from all over the world. The fever has already started this past week as division championships took place to decide which teams would get to play on famous Lamade Field in South Williamsport.  It’s certainly an exciting time in our region.

Williamsport is also now famous for being the seventh fastest growing metropolitan area in the nation thanks to the natural gas industry.  So, last year when the Responsible Drilling Alliance decided to play Grinch and put up an anti-natural gas billboard across the road from the stadiums, I knew it offended more than a few local attendees now employed by this industry.

RDA Billboard across from the LLWS 2011

RDA Billboard across from the LLWS 2011

It also made me wonder, though, since the Marcellus is not the only natural gas or oil play in the country, who else might it have offended at a time when we are supposed to be welcoming visitors to our community? Let’s take a look at the American teams in this year’s 66th Little League World Series to find out.

U.S. Shale Plays

U.S. Shale Plays

Great Lakes: New Castle, Indiana (Henry County)

Shale Play(s): New Albany

Indiana has a long history of oil and natural gas development beginning in 1886 when natural gas was first discovered in Delaware County, just above Henry County where the team hails from. In 2009 it ranked 24th overall in crude oil production and 25th overall in natural gas production in the United States.

Today, as we have always done in the past, the oil producers of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are fighting for affordable American energy and jobs for our local economy. After watching this video, we encourage you to view some additional facts regarding the jobs and economic impact of our American Oil industry. It’s time to speak up for our industry – both in the communities where we live and with the policy makers of this great nation! –Indiana Oil and Gas Association

Midwest: Kearney, Nebraska (Buffalo County)

Shale Play(s): Niobrara

The first oil well was drilled in Nebraska in 1940, although the Denver Basin, where much of the production in the state occurs saw its first well in 1881 in Colorado.  In 2009 it ranked 22nd overall in crude oil production and 26th overall in natural gas production in the United States. The oil and gas industry in Nebraska employed nearly 13,000 people in 2009.

Sydow said state-owned mineral rights are auctioned off through leases every year and the most recent one was pretty noteworthy.

The very last lease sale that was held in Nebraska, by virtue of this activity in Colorado and Wyoming, I believe our board of education land and funds had the largest pot of money raised for over 30 years,” he said.

Interest is especially strong in Banner County. Its only town, Harrisburg, has a population of around 100 and looks like a prairie museum.  There are buildings from the 1800s … a welding shop, church, drug store.

The town didn’t have too many visitors. Until last year.

“Just to give you an idea of the amount of recording that took place last year – book 127 we started off in page 380 in January of 2010 and now we have book 135 which is close to being full,” said Lori Hostettler, the Banner County Clerk.

She said since November the courthouse has had to bring in an extra table, another copy machine and computer to accommodate an influx in oil company workers researching mineral rights in the county. (Harvest Public Media, August 2011)

Mid-Atlantic: Parsippany, New Jersey (Morris County)

Shale Play(s): None known


New Jersey has no current oil and gas development. It is ranked 8th in the country for natural gas consumption. As of 2007, it was one of the states listed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) as being at least 85 percent dependent on interstate pipelines for its natural gas supply.

New Jersey has several natural gas transmission lines fueling the state, including:

  • Tennessee Gas Transmission
  • Spectra Pipeline
  • Transco Pipeline

New Jersey’s Spectra Pipeline has recently been approved for expansion and will bring gas to New York City to fuel its energy needs. The Tennessee and Transco pipelines run throughout the Marcellus region.

At this time, New Jersey has a one year ban on hydraulic fracturing and is waiting for a determination from Governor Christie on whether the ban will be lifted. Perhaps the team or their parents will have the opportunity to get a look at natural gas development up close while in Lycoming County.

New England: Fairfield, Connecticut (Fairfield County)

Shale Play(s): None known

Connecticut has no current oil and gas development. It is ranked 35th in the country for natural gas consumption. As of 2007, it was one of the states listed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) as being at least 85 percent dependent on interstate pipelines for its natural gas supply.

There are also three major natural gas transmission pipelines which run through Connecticut:

  • Algonquin Gas Transmission (AGT – Spectra Energy Corporation)
  • Iroquois Gas Transmission System (IGT),  
  • Tennessee Gas Transmission (TGP – El Paso Corporation)

The Tennessee, which runs through the Northern Tier, is likely delivering at least some Marcellus gas from our region to these consumers. If the Constitution Pipeline is approved, it will deliver natural gas from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to the Iroquois and also provide gas from our region to Connecticut consumers.

Trinity College in Connecticut has also been educating students on where the gas they use comes from. A few months ago, Tom Shepstone and Bill desRosiers headed up to the college to give a presentation to students on the Marcellus Shale, and Bill conducted a follow-up tour with these individuals. We commend them for their efforts to look beyond the media and get out and see natural gas development up close.

Southeast: Goodlettsville, Tennessee (Davidson and Sumner Counties)

Shale Play(s): Chattanooga, Exello-Mulky

The first recorded oil well in Tennessee was drilled in 1820 between Clay and Pickett Counties, with the first commercially produced well occurring in 1866 in Overton County. In 2009 it ranked 29th overall in crude oil production and 24th overall in natural gas production in the United States. The petroleum industry employed nearly 30,000 people in Tennessee in 2009.

Southwest: San Antonio, Texas (Bexar County)

Shale Play(s): Avelone-Bone Spring, Barnett, Barnett-Woodford, Bend (potential), Eagle Ford, Haynesville-Bossier

Like Williamsport sits in the heart of the Marcellus, San Antonio, and these kids, are from the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale located just south of their hometown. It is an industry most of these youth are probably very familiar with considering when much of the country thinks of oil and gas development, Texas is what commonly comes to mind because of it’s long and robust history with the industry.

In 2009 it ranked 2nd overall in crude oil production and 1st overall in natural gas production in the United States.  As such, there’s quite a bit we could talk about when it comes to Texas oil and gas development, but we’ll focus on the two shale plays nearest this team to narrow it down just a bit.

Barnett Shale

It’s a major source of employment (100,000 jobs over the past decade, including direct and indirect jobs), has generated billions of dollars in tax revenue, and boasts an impressive safety record. There have been more than 18,000 wells drilled into the Barnett Shale (including several thousand in the floodplains of the Trinity and Brazos Rivers), and there hasn’t been a single confirmed case of ground water contamination from hydraulic fracturing. And thanks to state-of-the-art air monitoring from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), we also know that Barnett development is not producing air emissions at a level that would impact public health. (Energy In Depth, August 1, 2012)

Eagle Ford Shale

Northwest: Gresham, Oregon (Multnomah County)

Shale Play(s): None known

Oregon is another state with a history of oil and gas development. In 2009 it ranked 29th overall in natural gas production in the United States.

The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated as much as one trillion cubic feet of oil and gas occurs in the Columbia Basin of south-central Washington and north-central Oregon. They have also estimated that there are numerous small gas fields throughout the Pacific Northwest, such as the Mist Gas Field in northwestern Oregon.

Half of the revenue derived from leasing and royalties is returned to the state where the leases are located. Currently there are about 250 federal leases representing about 424,000 acres in Oregon and Washington.

West: Petaluma, California (Sonoma County)

Shale Play(s): Monterey, Monterey-Temblor

California has an exceptionally long history of oil and gas development–even prior to the Drake Well.

In 1543, the famous Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo noticed the native people using the naturally occurring tar, or “pitch”, to waterproof their canoes. These seeps were also responsible for the tar pits of La Brea (Spanish for “pitch”), which had, over many thousands of years, trapped unsuspecting animals and their predators looking for an easy meal.

Oil has played a vital role in the history of California. The Spanish explorer first noticed native Indians using asphaltum (a very thick form of oil) from natural seeps. Natives used the product for weatherproofing, boat building, as an adhesive and in decoration. Settlers used asphaltum for sealing roofs of building.

The oldest recorded commercial use of oil comes from Humboldt County where crude from seeps was sold. Even before the first well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859 oil had already been distilled in California for lighting purposes for nearly a decade. Mining natural seeps were the preferred method of production until 1865 when wells started popping up from Humboldt down to the Los Angeles basin. Much of production became idle by 1867 when oil from Pennsylvania undercut prices below production costs. By 1876 the first truly commercial well was drilled in Pico Canyon and later that year the first true refinery was built in Newhall which produced 20 barrels a day. In 1879, the first oil pipeline in California—a 2-inch line—was laid from Pico Canyon to this new refinery, a distance of about five miles.

Much of the technology used around the world was developed first in California to extract the heavy crude found in most production areas. Declining production in the 1970’s led to new techniques to produce more oil including steam injection to heat the oil underground and allow the petroleum to move more freely.

In 2009 it ranked 4th overall in crude oil production and 12th overall in natural gas production in the United States. It also ranks #2 in the country for natural gas consumption behind Texas.

What’s It All Mean?

So you see, many of the teams hail from areas of the country with rich histories of natural gas development. Those that don’t have development occurring within their borders, are high users of the energy resource, giving them a vested interest as a consumer in what occurs in the Marcellus. Does it mean everyone who is on their way to South Williamsport this week is in favor of natural gas development? No. Does it mean everyone from New Jersey or Connecticut is opposed to it because they don’t have it? No.

What it does show, though, is a pattern of dependency on the resource. Many of these kids, especially on the Texas team, probably have family who support their families through this industry. Others likely use natural gas in their homes. Perhaps some even power their vehicles or ride buses fueled by CNG. Many come from states working to help decrease our dependency on foreign energy. It means that a billboard like the one seen last year could in fact be offensive to these youth and their families.

Irregardless, this week should prove to be a fun time for the kids filled with celebration over the huge accomplishments these teams have made this year in getting to play in the 66th Little League World Series. Everyone in Williamsport, including the natural gas industry, is excited to make sure that occurs and ready for the games to begin.

Grand Slam Parade Will Kick Off the Festivities

Every year thousands gather at the Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade in downtown Williamsport to welcome these teams to our community. Last year, several natural gas companies and vendors sponsored the parade providing, trucks, floats and other funding to help make it the huge success it has come to be.

2011 Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade Sponsors

2011 Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade Sponsors

This year’s parade will take place this Wednesday, August 15 at 6pm and will again receive sponsorship from many of the natural gas companies operating in Lycoming County. It will also be host to a special event, a Vote4Energy rally, where attendees can become educated on natural gas, the energy platforms of local elected officials, and possibly take home great prizes.

Vote4EnergyAugust 15, 2012 | Vote4Energy Event in conjunction with the Little League World Series –click to register or for more information
Williamsport, PA | 6:00 PM ET

The parade is always a good time, and if last month’s Vote4Energy rally in New York is any indicator, the rally will be as well. The rally will have lots of fun, booths and opportunities to view the film Truthland. We’ll be there handing out copies of the film and welcoming the teams to Williamsport. If you’re in the downtown area for the parade, be sure to stop in on Williams Street by the Genetti to check it out.

The games will begin on Thursday. We wish all of the teams the best of luck and congratulate each of you on achieving such a monumental feat already!


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