Remember when Pennsylvania was going to be the Texas of the natural gas boom? Were we ever that young and naive?
IT WAS JUST a couple of years ago that fracking was booming in upstate Pennsylvania's Bradford County, and Janet Geiger, a retired hospital worker living on a 10-acre spread near the New York border, could count on getting a $300 to $400 check every month from the gas giant Chesapeake Energy Corp., which was drilling under her land.
But both the gas and the checks - with the financially ailing Chesapeake now claiming big deductions - dwindled until finally, in March, a check never showed up. "I thought the mail had gotten lost," said Geiger, 74, but after a week she finally reached someone with the Oklahoma gas driller who explained "they didn't have a buyer [for the gas] that month."
But Geiger said that she'd already seen the signs of a slowdown, that rural streets once clogged with the massive trucks of the drilling firms were mostly empty now, while new motels that had been hastily thrown up or expanded to accommodate a flood of out-of-state workers had only a couple of cars in the parking lots.
It's been a little more than two years since a then-new Gov. Corbett famously pledged to make Pennsylvania "the Texas of the natural-gas boom" - but already it's beginning to look as if the governor was all hat and no cattle, at least on this issue.
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