Here’s something interesting. MIT’s Center for Civic Media is launching a new hydraulic fracturing web tool to help landowners become better informed, savvy negotiators when “landmen” come knocking to buy mineral rights in the Marcellus Shale and other new natural gas production areas. See http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2010/11/mit-unveils-civic-tools-for-communities-affected-by-natural-gas327.html I’m not sure what to make of it yet because it is only partly built. Time will tell.
This seems to be a good public service. People in shale production areas will be able to see where existing wells are located near their address and obtain news and other information. – I found a bunch of wells near my family’s original town, Laceyville, Pennsylvania. Too bad we don’t own any land anymore in what turned out to be a prime natural gas patch. Oh well.
I’m all for using responsible practices for drilling and making sure that the public and landowners are well informed about both the benefits and potential pitfalls of selling mineral rights for shale production. (See “Haynesville” – a good film illustrating how neighbors banded together to learn and negotiate a better financial compensation arrangement as well as protecting their water and land.) This new MIT site seems to be akin to “Checkbook” when looking for a good local plumber or contractor, or Zagat for locating a restaurant through user reviews. The site will allow people to post good or bad reviews of landsmen – those on the up and up, and those apparently not so fair. I’m glad to see they encourage good reviews as well as scathing ones. Anyway, definitely a site to watch.