Mar 11, 2011 (The Sanford Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Series
This week, The Herald takes a closer look at Lee County's abundant natural gas supply and what potential drilling will mean to the local economy and environment.
Today: What exactly is natural gas drilling, and why is Lee County a target for gas companies?
Saturday: Who stands to benefit from natural gas drilling in Lee County, and what could it mean for the local economy?
Sunday: There are concerns about the environmental impact of horizontal drilling (fracking) for natural gas supplies. We let the experts discuss and debate those concerns.
Editor's Note: Video for Part I will appear early Friday
SANFORD -- It's a typical January government meeting, and as several local leaders begin to crunch early budget numbers, a gaggle of officials are huddled in a corner conference room of Sanford City Hall talking rocks.
Shale rocks, to be exact.
In this group are Sanford City Council members, Lee County commissioners, local environmental advisers, planners and economic chiefs. The small, muddy-colored rock being passed around the room doesn't look like much. There's no shine to its exterior ... only a dull, earthen tone. Its shape is unremarkable, better fit for a paperweight than any kind of jewelry.
But the assembled leaders pass the chunk around the room as if it were gold in their hands, assessing its weight before holding it to their noses for a sniff.
"In this, you might smell gas," says Ray Covington. "Some people smell money."