I knew natural gas was becoming cheaper than coal because of horizontal drilling and fracking, but I thought the new gas was coming from North Dakota and Texas shales. I learned from my brother-in-law, Will Fleckenstein, that there are huge natural gas deposits in shales in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Not only are these deposits relatively close to several major urban areas, there is estimated to be a several hundred year supply! Not only is gas cheaper, it has a smaller CO2 footprint (about half) and none of the nasty impurities like sulfur and mercury. The two shale beds being explored and developed are the Marcellus and the Utica. Other shale plays include the Antrium under much of the lower penensula of Michigan. The New Albany play is probably why I saw so much well drilling during my trips to Evansville a couple of years ago.
Page 12 of the February, 2017 issue of Trains provides the following facts:
Natural gas prices per million British thermal units --- a measure of thermal content --- slid from more than $10 in 2008 to $1.49 in March before reaching $2.26 in November, the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration reports.In 2016 "natural gas unseated coal as the top source of U.S. electricity." [TIME, April 10, 2017, p. 8]
CSX Transportation, after losing $2 billion in coal revenue during the past five years. would prefer gas at $3.50, says Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer indy Sanborn.