Attorney General's Office: It's your property

In less than 10 years, the production of natural gas has more than tripled. That's the reason for the heightened interest in Madison County properties that cover the Marcellus Shale Formation, according to Assistant Attorney General Joel Marmelstein.

The formation is believed to contain possibly the largest find of natural gas in the country's history, and Marmelstein of the AG's Utica office says that while much of the growth in production has been contained to the Southern Tier, it is unreasonable to think this formation won't follow the same pattern of development in other parts of the state.

Michael J. Danaher Jr. of the AG's Binghamton office spends much of his work life in public advocacy. He said as technology has advanced, the ability to find and drill for natural gas has become more lucrative, and the incentive? The price of natural gas nearly tripled between 2002 and 2007, Danaher said.

"These conditions have all been 'the perfect storm,' so to speak, to come together for the [interest in] exploration and extraction of natural gas from the Trent-Black River and now the big one, Marcellus Shale," Danaher said.

Danaher said the good news is the revenues to gas companies and land owners the industry provides. He said it also is a means for reducing American dependence on foreign energy reliance. On the flip side, Danaher said his office has received complaints from a number of landowners complaining of misleading, abusive and fraudulent leasing tactics and environmental concerns.

According to Danaher, one of the top environmental concerns expressed is the amount of water used and disposed of in connection with a procedure called "hydrofracking." That water can be collected at the site or trucked in, and may contain chemicals and abrasives such as sand.

Danaher said the first contact landowners will have with gas companies would be with "landmen."

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