Tuesday, April 16, 2013

PA Marcellus Digest - April 16, 2013

PA Marcellus Digest – April 16, 2013

DEP Allows Fracking To Resume At Spill Site Before Investigation is Complete
State Impact
Marie Cusick
April 11, 2013
The state Department of Environmental Protection hasn’t finished its investigation into a gas well spill that caused the evacuation of three homes in Wyoming County last month, but in the meantime the agency has allowed the drilling company to resume fracking operations.
Pickett proposal to apply incentives for natural gas vehicle purchases heads to House floor
The Daily Review
April 11, 2013
The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on Wednesday endorsed Rep. Tina Pickett's (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) proposal to provide grants to municipalities, schools and the private sector for the purchase of natural gas vehicles.

Pa. Fish and Boat Commission mulls charging industry for water
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
John Hayes
April 13, 2013
What's water worth? Depends on whom you ask.
To some 850,000 trout anglers expected to hit Pennsylvania's lakes and streams for today's statewide opening of trout season, that's like asking the value of a day out fishing with your dad.

Say no to gas industry subsidies
Citizens Voice
April 11, 2013
Gov. Tom Corbett and like-minded members of the state Legislature scoff at the notion that taxpayers should subsidize the development of an alternative energy industry. They have killed a once-promising solar manufacturing industry in the state and have slowed wind development.

Fracking Resumes Less Than a Month After 200,000+ Gallon Spill
Keystone Politics
April 11, 2013
Last month, seven homes in Wyoming County, PA had to be evacuated when a natural gas drilling rig had a blowout, and gallon after gallon of fracking waste-water began spilling out uncontrollably. Now, not even a full month later, fracking has resumed on the site with the full endorsement of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The Intelligencer
Casey Junkins
April 14, 2013
Some environmental groups are concerned about the Center for Sustainable Shale Development. So are some industry groups.

Energy-starved Chile covets Pennsylvania's natural gas
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Karen Langley
April 13, 2013
If the Pennsylvania trade delegation heard a message on its first day in Chile, a growing economy without sufficient or reliable energy sources, it was an unabashed interest in the state's natural gas.

Williamsport Sun-Gazette
April 7, 2013
There is a critical misstatement in your recent article on drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest ("Rock Run drilling still a big question," March 24).

Growth in Natural Gas Vehicles Will Have ‘Minimal Impact’ on Prices
Environmental Leader
April 15, 2013
A transition to natural gas-fueled heavy duty and light duty vehicles over the next decade will have a minimal impact on natural gas prices, according to research by the American Clean Skies Foundation.

DCNR denies public a say in gas drilling: PennLive letters
April 15, 2013
For months, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has been unresponsive to repeated requests for public meetings on gas drilling proposals within a very unique and environmentally special area of the Loyalsock State Forest.

Pennsylvania should pass a natural gas severance tax: As I See It
Patriot News Op-Ed
Katie Mattern
April 14, 2013
The environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used in Marcellus shale exploration are already known -- as well as disputed -- by scientists and industry leaders alike. Scientists argue that the toxic chemicals in fracking fluid –up to three hundred tons added to a water and sand mixture-- can pollute both aquifers and wells if it migrates into those areas. 

House panel approves Marcellus tax credits
April 12, 2013
Bills to provide millions of dollars of state tax credits to develop natural gas markets were approved by a House committee Tuesday after a debate over favoritism to Marcellus Shale companies and job creation strategies. The bills advanced by the Finance Committee are part of the "Marcellus Works" package to develop more uses in Pennsylvania for in-state natural gas production, a top priority of House Republicans.

New gas industry newspaper debuts
Williamsport Sun Gazette
April 14, 2013
"Central PA Shale Play," a new publication dedicated to information about the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, debuted on Thursday, April 11. The next edition will be published on Thursday, April 25.

Finally - Waste water to be tested for radioactivity
Herald Standard
April 12, 2013
Years into the Marcellus shale boom, Pennsylvania is finally going to begin testing drilling waste water and equipment for unsafe levels of radiation. We do not know if radiation contamination from drilling is a problem — but it sure is not something we believe should be left to chance.

Global natural gas boom fuels local Air Products business
The Morning Call
Sam Kennedy
April 14, 2013
On the wooded outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, Air Products owns a cavernous, century-old brick factory building. Perhaps three or four times a year, the building's sliding doors part, giving birth to something utterly incongruous: A huge white NASA rocket two-thirds the length of a football field.

Inquirer Editorial: Even in gas country, there's common ground
April 15, 2013
Like much in the country today, the debate over Pennsylvania's shale-gas boom often seems hopelessly polarized - an endless and largely useless standoff between environmentalists who want the gas to stay in the ground and energy executives who think it's theirs to exploit unhindered.

State DEP halts blasting plan at Fayette County coal waste dumpTribLive
Timothy Puko
April 12, 2013
State environmental regulators are taking more action at a troubled Fayette County coal waste dump, stopping a seismic testing company that had planted underground explosives there, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said on Thursday.
Pa. lawmakers consider incentives for natural gas vehicles, fueling stations
Carolyn Beeler
April 15, 2013
The Pennsylvania House this week is considering a package of bills to encourage bus systems and businesses to switch their fleets to natural gas. The "Marcellus Works" package of bills would provide tax breaks, loans and grants for municipal bus systems and private companies to buy natural-gas powered vehicles.

Companies agree to improve safety measures at natural gas operations in Western PA
April 16, 2013
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today two separate settlements with companies that have agreed to improve operation of their natural gas facilities in western Pennsylvania. EPA alleged that the companies failed to comply with federal clean air regulations to prevent accidental releases of flammable substances.

Natural Gas: Powering Pennsylvania’s Transportation Sector
April 16, 2013
Pennsylvania’s abundant, clean-burning Marcellus Shale natural gas resources are laying the foundation for a manufacturing rebirth in the Commonwealth, creating tens of thousands of well-paying local jobs, enhancing air quality and lowering energy costs for consumers, all while generating much-needed tax and fee revenue for important investments, especially for our environment.

Fracking coalition draws industry, environmentalist ire
April  15, 2013
A plan to bolster regulations on hydraulic fracturing has united several oil and gas companies and environmentalist groups. But the effort has also heightened tensions on both sides of the fracking debate.

The Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development aims to bring drillers together with fracking skeptics to hash out mutually agreeable, voluntary regulations on air and water pollution. The CSSD would issue a seal of approval to well operators in Appalachia that are found to abide by the group's list of 15 stringent standards (EnergyWire, March 25).

The coalition already counts petroleum giants Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Chevron Corp. among its members, alongside the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Task Force and other groups. But attempts to include more organizations have run up against the wall that divides the fracking debate's most disparate factions.

The Sierra Club dubbed the effort "akin to slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound," while the anti-drilling website No Fracking Way issued a sarcastic "WHOOO-HOOO, Frackers and Environmentalists collaborate!" in a blogged response to the CSSD's overtures.

Range Resources Corp. spokesman Matt Pitzarella issued a curt "no" when asked about any plans to participate, although he added they "commend the groups for coming together." The pro-drilling website Marcellus Drilling News issued a less accommodating response, writing that if companies such as Shell and Chevron "want to craft an organization that compromises (too far) with eco-nuts, go right ahead and disadvantage yourselves. But don't require everyone else to follow your lead."

Polarized vitriol has long accompanied arguments over fracking, an unconventional extraction technique that blasts water, sand and chemicals down well bores to free up trapped shale oil and gas. Some see an opportunity for the CSSD to marginalize the most extreme partisans in the debate while furthering important regulatory goals.

Robert Vagt, president of the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments and an important underwriter of the CSSD, said in an email that the group could have the "secondary consequence" of isolating such uncompromising voices. But he said the coalition's primary motivation "is to engage directly the challenges of developing" shale oil and gas, "which are being argued primarily in sound bites for the media rather than in constructive dialogue" (Kevin Begos, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, April 12). -- BS

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