Exxon Corp.'s plan to pay $41 billion ($31 billion new stock plus $10 billion assumed debt) for natural-gas driller XTO Corp. of Fort Worth makes the oil giant a major landlord in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale drill country.

It's not in the press release, but check the merger presentation and you'll see the Pennsylvania-based region ranks fourth among XTO's nine major gas fields, with 280,000 acres leased for drilling (see chart on Page 7). That includes 152,000 acres XTO bought from Linn Energy LLC last year.

We've said it before: Pennsylvania is a Saudi Arabia of coal - natural gas, too. And we sure need the energy. But we'd better watch what they're going to do to get those b.t.u.'s to market. Who wants to live in a desert?