Saturday Gazette-Mail, Charleston, WV, 2/18:

George Hohmann: Shales keep giving
By George Hohmann
The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The natural gas-rich shales: nature's gifts that keep on giving.

Now comes word that although coal shipments by rail are down as utilities shift to burning natural gas to generate electricity, shipments of sand used to fracture shale formations are up.

"Moving sand, pipe and other drilling equipment gives carriers such as CSX, the largest U.S. eastern railroad, new cargo as coal customers scale back," Bloomberg News noted on Thursday.

Bloomberg quoted CSX Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward as saying that moving fracking sand into the Marcellus Shale region (which underlies much of West Virginia) is "a great growth opportunity for us."