Webinar looks at research on landowner coalitions in shale gas development

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Marcellus Shale landowner coalitions — their form, function and impact — will be the topic of a one-hour, web-based seminar offered by Penn State Extension at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23.

Presenting the webinar will be Grace Wildermuth, a Penn State doctoral degree student in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education. She will discuss research from her thesis on landowner coalitions.

Many landowners joined landowner coalitions as a way to keep informed and get higher lease rates for a group through collective bargaining, she noted. But it is time to question, Wildermuth believes, if coalitions are beneficial for everyone, and is there something to be said for the landowner group model?

"In Pennsylvania alone, more than 40 landowner groups have formed to gain collective bargaining power in negotiations with industry representatives," she said. “However, little research has been done to evaluate the outcomes attained by landowner coalitions in Pennsylvania or explore how they have affected shale gas development in the region."

Wildermuth's research suggests answers to questions about the effectiveness of landowner coalitions. Using primary data collected through her interviews with oil and gas attorneys, extension specialists, coalition leadership, and members of landowner coalitions, she investigated Marcellus Shale landowner coalitions in a five-county region in northeast Pennsylvania. 

"In addition to providing useful information for those deciding whether joining a landowner coalition is the correct decision, this research also explores other possible scenarios in which this collective bargaining model might be employed by landowners,” she said.

The presentation is part of Penn State Extension's monthly Shale Gas Education webinar series. Upcoming webinars include the following:

— Sept. 20: "Shale Legislative and Regulatory Update Regarding Rule of Capture," presented by Ross Pifer, clinical professor of law and director of the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law at Penn State Law.

— Oct. 18: "Handling Orphan and Abandoned Wells from a Regulatory and Industry Perspective," presented by Seth Pelepko, manager of the Division of Well Plugging and Subsurface Activities in the Office of Oil and Gas Management, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and Luke Plants, vice president, Plants and Goodwin Inc.

— Nov. 15: "Agricultural Production and Shale Gas Development," presented by Gretchen Sneegas, doctoral degree candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia.

— Dec. 13: "Unconventional Oil and Gas Bringing Trusted Science to Decision-Making," presented by Donna Vorhees, director of the Energy Research Program for Health Effects Institute.

The webinar is free, but registration is necessary. To register, visit the Penn State Extension Natural Gas Events webpage. More information is available by contacting Carol Loveland at 570-320-4429 or at

Previous webinars, publications and information also are available on the Penn State Extension natural-gas website, covering a variety of topics such as liquid natural gas; seismic testing; methane emissions; water use and quality; Marcellus and Utica basins; natural gas reserves; gas-leasing considerations for landowners; legal issues surrounding gas development; and the impact of Marcellus gas development on forestland.

Last Updated August 15, 2018