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County residents sitting on gas gold mine
|News that a vast natural gas source is below Steuben County led to a capacity crowd Tuesday night at the Campbell-Savona High School. |
The natural gas is trapped about a mile under ground in the Marcellus Shale, which extends from West Virginia through Pennsylvania and up to western New York and Canada.
The range is estimated to contain 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with reports that 10 percent production would heat every home in the U.S. for two years.
But while the implications of the resource are growing nationally, nearly 1,000 people filled the Campbell school auditorium to find out what the Marcellus project means locally.
"This is not the $1 or $2 (per acre) we've had in the past," said Lindsay Wickham, field adviser and local issues coordinator for the state Farm Bureau.
Competition between gas companies is likely to mean higher signing bonuses and subsidies for landowners.
"In Pennsylvania, (companies') rates started out at $5 to $50 an acre," he said. "Now they're $2,000, $3,000, and royalties are at 15, 16, 17 percent."
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