Marcellus Shale landowners pool information on gas

For decades, developers of natural gas bought mineral rights in northern Pennsylvania for a few bucks an acre, and that was the end of the story - no drilling ever took place. So Ronald B. Stamets balked when a land man showed up two years ago and offered him $500 an acre for a gas lease.

" 'Whoa, this guy must know something I don't know,' " Stamets, 63, a Web developer who lives near Lake Como in Wayne County, in the state's northeast corner, recalled thinking. "They were offering real money."

Stamets and some of his neighbors began researching the emerging natural gas discoveries in the Marcellus Shale, a mile-deep rock formation that lies under much of Pennsylvania. He created a slapdash Web site, www.pagaslease.com, where property owners could swap their findings about leases and exploration activity.

The Web site soon got discovered, and it has developed into a library of information on the locations and terms of the latest gas leases, as well as news about potential environmental threats.

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