Wednesday, September 26, 2012

PA Marcellus News Digest 9/26/12

PA Marcellus News Digest
Septermber 26, 2012


Sept 26
Legislation introduced by Senator Don White allowing the leasing of property owned by the state and the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) for mining or removal of valuable coal, oil, natural gas, coal bed methane, limestone and mineral resources received final legislative approval Tuesday (September 25) and is headed to the Governor for enactment into law.

Mansfield and Other State-Owned Universities to Benefit from Mineral Extraction on University Property, Says Baker
Sept 25
HARRISBURG – Legislation permitting state-owned universities, such as Mansfield University, to profit from the extraction of minerals on their lands is headed to the governor’s desk, announced Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga), a supporter of the bill and member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors.


Western Pa. natural gas destined for Europe
Pitt Trib
Tim Puko
Sept 26
More natural gas from Western Pennsylvania will flow to Europe as part of a Philadelphia company’s new export pipeline project, a company official said on Tuesday.

Newly passed bill will allow mining and drilling near state-owned institutions
Andrew Maykuth
Sept 26
State universities in Pennsylvania could soon get a front-row seat on the Marcellus Shale industry.

Report criticizes Pa. gas drilling enforcement
Sept 26
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A new report says that Pennsylvania regulators aren't inspecting tens of thousands of oil and gas wells even once a year. But state officials say they're inspecting most new Marcellus Shale wells, and that's the right place to focus.

Shale health advisory panel in works
Robert Swift
Sept 26
HARRISBURG - A Senate Republican leader is drafting a bill to create a panel to address public health and safety issues stemming from drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale region.

Environmental group says states fail to oversee fracking
Kasia Klimasinska
Sept 26
WASHINGTON -- States fail to adequately monitor hydraulic fracturing and use outdated fines that are inadequate to deter violations, an environmental group said Tuesday.

Top Republican Floats Proposal To Create Marcellus Shale Health Panel
NPR State Impact
Scott Detrow
Sept 26

Support renewable energy, not gas
Pocono Record
Lynnel Jones
Letter to the Editor
Sept 25
There are things about fracking which amaze me. Like, what happened to the "locals-know-best" policy extolled by our Republican governor and the Republican-controlled legislature? The answer is they decided it's a good idea for wealthy counties in southeast Pennsylvania to establish their own anti-fracking ordinances and equally good for the rest of us to be preempted from local control.

Shale Gas Conference in Center City Philadelphia Draws Protesters
CBS Local
John McDevitt
Sept 20
(includes video)
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly 2,000 members of the natural gas industry are in Philadelphia for the Shale Gas Insight convention, and it’s bringing opposition — with protesters demanding an end to fracking in Pennsylvania.

In Philly symposium, experts debate health effects of fracking
WHYY Newsworks
Taunya English
Sept 21
Advocates and researchers studying the influence of shale-gas drilling on health gathered in Philadelphia to discuss their work this week. The symposium was scheduled to coincide with the Shale Gas Insight Conference, which is also in town.

State oil and gas rules weak with spotty enforcement -- enviro report
E&E News Energy Wire
Ellen M. Gilmer
Sept 26
(full text below)
Environmentalists are again sounding an alarm on lax enforcement of state oil and gas regulations.

A report issued by Earthworks yesterday says more than half of oil and gas wells go uninspected and that fines for violations amount to pocket change for the industry.

The study breaks down enforcement patterns in six states -- Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas -- and includes recommendations for increased oversight.

"To be honest, it was a little depressing," said Earthworks attorney Bruce Baizel, who described the states' enforcement practices to be "uniformly poor."

The report comes as industry continues its appeal to keep states in charge of oil and gas regulation, and as GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's energy plan calls for pushing more industry matters to the states. Baizel points to the new report as evidence that states are not equipped to handle increased oversight responsibility.

The Earthworks report recommends a significant increase in penalties, which researchers say could contribute to more stable funding for regulating agencies -- often subject to state budget trimming -- and a resulting decrease in violations.

"You have to make them feel it in the pocketbook, and that'll make them change their behavior," Baizel said.

Industry representatives were quick to defend state regulators, referring also to Obama administration praise of state programs.

"The states are regulating hydraulic fracturing effectively and are fully capable of handling it on a larger scale as shale development expands," top White House aide Heather Zichal said in May.

Elgie Holstein, an energy adviser for the Obama campaign, told "Platts Energy Week" last week that "the states are doing a good job" regulating natural gas development.

"This report mis-represents information to elicit a negative view of natural gas development," wrote Energy in Depth's John Krohn in an email, arguing that violations in Pennsylvania, for example, are in fact decreasing.

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association, too, defended state-level oversight, saying in a statement from Executive Vice President Tom Stewart that the state's oversight agency "is taking the necessary steps to ensure that Ohio's growing oil and gas industry expands in a safe and responsible manner."

Indeed, the state increased the agency's budget and announced that it aimed to triple its staff by early 2013 to 90 inspectors (EnergyWire, May 11).

Earthworks representatives argue that more robust state regulatory programs are in the industry's interest, as they would demonstrate to concerned residents that all possible measures are being taken to ensure safe drilling.

"It just seems to me that if you don't [improve enforcement]," Baizel said, "then you'll see more and more people just saying, 'It can't be done responsibly at all, so let's just ban it.'"

Baizel said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was taking the report into consideration as the state develops shale drilling policy, and that Matt Lepore, new director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, had read the report and was looking to implement recommendations.

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