Pennsylvania Fracking Industry not Immune from COVID

As part of a series chronicling changes to the lives of Americans caused by the coronavirus pandemic, CBS News looked at the effects of the virus on Pennsylvania’s fracking industry.

by Zak Hudak

Photo by Laurie Barr / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

John Stavovy had become accustomed to getting monthly checks of $7,000 to $8,000 from the energy company that began pumping shale gas from his 285-acre farm in Washington County, Pennsylvania, at the peak of the Marcellus Shale boom. But as the price of natural gas fell to its lowest point in two decades, his checks have dropped to under $2,000. 

After the 2008 financial crisis, a major influx of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boosted Pennsylvania’s economy. Today the state produces more dry natural gas than any state except Texas, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). But overproduction, a warmer than usual winter and the pandemic have driven its New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) Henry Hub price down over 30% since November.