Fractured Appalachia

Series produced by WMMT

Caption: Main Street, McRoberts, KY.
Main Street, McRoberts, KY. 

Natural gas drilling in southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky is the subject of a new radio documentary from WMMT, Appalshop’s public, community radio station in Whitesburg, Kentucky. “Fractured Appalachia” is a one-hour program, also available as seven short features, that examines legal and environmental facets of the region’s burgeoning new energy industry.

Natural gas extraction has grown rapidly in Central Appalachian in recent years. New technology has enabled drillers to reach major resources that were formerly uneconomic. As a result, natural gas has become a big part of the region’s energy economy. In 2010 southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky combined to produce at least $6 billion worth of gas, and the reserves now in the ground could support this level of production for a century.

This rapid increase in natural gas recovery has affected many landowners in the area. Some are concerned about damage to their property from wells, roads and pipelines. Others question the way gas royalty payments are distributed. WMMT producers Jonathan Hootman and Rich Kirby interviewed landowners, gas company land agents, company officials, geologists, and attorneys. “We talked to people across the WMMT listening area,” says Kirby. “The concerns we heard about were not exactly like those in some other areas—we don’t have the same pollution issues here that occur in the Marcellus shale area further north. We heard about surface and water damage, about the importance of getting good legal advice, and about the ‘forced pooling’ controversy in Virginia. We tried to reflect these concerns in our work.”

“Fractured Appalachia” is available free of charge to all public radio stations. The work can also be heard online at www.fracturedappalachia.org, a website which includes links to many informational resources on natural gas issues. Hide full description

Natural gas extraction has grown rapidly in Central Appalachian in recent years. New technology has enabled drillers to reach major resources that were formerly uneconomic. As a result, natural gas has become a big part of the region’s energy economy. In 2010 southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky combined to produce at least $6 billion worth of gas, and the reserves now in the ground could support this level of production for a century. This rapid increase in natural gas recovery has affected many landowners in the area. Some are concerned about damage to their property from wells, roads and pipelines. Others question the way gas royalty payments are distributed. WMMT producers Jonathan Hootman and Rich Kirby interviewed landowners, gas company land agents, company officials,... Show full description


8 Pieces

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Caption: McRoberts, KY
Natural gas drilling in southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky is the subject of a new radio documentary from WMMT, Appalshop’s public, community ...

Bought by KZYX


  • Added: Feb 06, 2012
  • Length: 56:28
  • Purchases: 1
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In our first episode, we begin our documentary series by starting at the bottom, with the rocks underneath our feet. What exactly is under the grou...

  • Added: May 04, 2012
  • Length: 06:46
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The first contact people have with the gas industry is often a meeting with a landman. Land agents, generally men, work for gas companies, usually ...

  • Added: May 04, 2012
  • Length: 08:31
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In this installment, producers Jonathan Hootman and Rich Kirby examine both the importance and the difficulty of soliciting legal advice before sig...

  • Added: May 04, 2012
  • Length: 07:53
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In this installment of Fractured Appalachia, we hear about the legal arrangements that govern the royalties that people receive from natural gas ex...

Bought by WAMC


  • Added: May 04, 2012
  • Length: 12:31
  • Purchases: 1
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In this piece, producers Jonathan Hootman and Rich Kirby examine the process of how a gas well is drilled, using technology developed within the la...

  • Added: May 04, 2012
  • Length: 10:05
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In this installment of Fractured Appalachia, producers Jonathan Hootman and Rich Kirby take a look at what regulations exist surrounding oil and ga...

  • Added: May 04, 2012
  • Length: 06:26
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So often, when a natural resource is being developed, we hear of a two-sided debate: it’s jobs versus the environment, and you can’t have both. In ...

  • Added: May 04, 2012
  • Length: 09:58