Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Mon, Dec 8, 2014

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading:

MARCELLUS/UTICA REGION

A Step Toward Energy Independence
State College (PA) Pennsylvania Business Central
This year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced 10 proposed Marcellus and Utica shale gas transmission pipeline projects. All but one have significant new “greenfield” construction, which means they are new pipelines with new rights of way. Before 2014, all of the Marcellus and Utica interstate pipeline projects had been upgrades to existing pipelines that carried natural gas from the Gulf Coast and the West. Some of those pipelines were expanded or “looped” to accommodate additional gas from the Marcellus and the Utica shale plays. The 10 new “greenfield” pipelines would transport Marcellus and Utica shale gas to markets and processing facilities.

New York

Will Cuomo Meet his Self-Imposed Fracking Deadline?
Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin
Gov. Andrew Cuomo surprised supporters and critics alike in October, when he casually mentioned during a debate that the state’s long-awaited report on the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing is “due at the end of the year.” With just weeks remaining in 2014, the state Department of Health reiterated Friday that it anticipates finishing up the report — which has been in the works since 2012 and will determine the fate of large-scale fracking in New York — by month’s end. Still, advocates on both sides of the contentious issue are left wondering whether Cuomo will stick to his word. And if history is any guide, further delays are possible: a decision has been repeatedly delayed.

Fracking (not) in Perinton
Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle
I gotta say, I have not been convinced that fracking will destroy any environments, above or below ground, any more than, say, tree harvesting or oil drilling or housing construction. The notion that fossil fuel exploration de-motivates research in renewable energy production is conjecture. There are a lot of well-funded anti-frackers out there who would seem to be strongly in support of research; there is nothing stopping them. I am not aware of any widespread, unintended destruction from existing fracking sites. Stories of tap water being ignited with a match are rare and disclaimed with reports of pre-existing conditions.

Ohio

Bi-Weekly Page with News & Events Relating to O&G Industry in Ohio & Guernsey County
Cambridge (OH) The Daily Jeffersonian
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management’s online statistics (Shale Activity tab) last updated Nov. 29, 2014, ODNR has issued a total of 1,652 permits for drilling in the Utica shale in Ohio since December 2009, an increase of 14 since ODNR’s update on Nov. 22, 2014. A total of 1,204 Utica wells have been drilled since December 2009, an increase of 4 since ODNR’s update on Nov. 22, 2014.

Pennsylvania

Marcellus and Utica: What’s Ahead for 2015?
State College (PA) Pennsylvania Business Central
Exciting times are forecast for the Shale industry in 2015 and beyond. Ten Marcellus and Utica interstate pipeline projects are in the process of development. The state will host the first two liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities in the Northeast built exclusively for LNG-powered tractor-trailer fleets and drilling rigs. More homes and businesses in Pennsylvania are expected to use natural gas next year for heating and cooking as utilities bring gas to underserved areas. And four our ethane cracker plants have been proposed for the Appalachian Basin, which are expected to draw a host of manufacturers to our region.

Route 19 Corridor Continues to Boom
Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter
The Route 19 corridor in Washington County, from the northern border to Murtland Avenue in South Strabane Township, is going kaboom – and likely will continue to do so. Oil and gas and its supporting industries not only are thriving, but are helping to fuel growth in retail, real estate and entertainment. Meadows Landing, in South Strabane Township, is representative of what has been transpiring for nearly two years along Route 19 – aka Washington Road. Washington Area Teachers Federal Credit Union and Washington Health System’s outpatient center opened this fall, and a Speedway convenience store/gasoline station are well underway, targeted for a mid-January debut.

Pennsylvania Should Consider the Value of Natural Gas When Levying Property Taxes
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If I own a property worth a million dollars because it has a mansion on it, I pay property taxes on the full million dollars. But if I own property worth a million dollars because of natural gas in the ground, I only pay taxes on the value not attributable to the gas in the ground, which may be a small fraction of a million dollars. Why doesn’t the funding of local governments and schools, which comes primarily from property taxes, rest on the owners of all types of property, including the value of the natural gas in the ground?

Freshmen Legislators Bartolotta, Ortitay Take Office
Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter
The two Republican newcomers will be a change from Tim Solobay, who spent a decade as a state representative before serving as a one-term senator, and Jesse White, who represented the 46th state House district since 2007. One might think their departures could cost Southwestern Pennsylvania some political clout in Harrisburg, but Washington & Jefferson College political science professor Joseph DiSarro believes the newly elected politicians’ allegiance with the Republicans who control the state House and Senate will be a “positive factor” for Washington and Greene counties.

OTHER U.S. REGIONS

Southeast

For Some, Gas Pipeline Through Va. Carries Concerns
Norfolk (VA) The Virginia-Pilot
Located along a winding road in the peaceful Blue Ridge foothills of Nelson County, the Acorn Inn Bed and Breakfast boasts 15 guest rooms close to local vineyards, craft breweries and the ski runs at Wintergreen. English, Dutch, German and Spanish are spoken. It’s also an epicenter of an energy battle growing with the same kind of intensity surrounding the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. That project, stretching from Canada to the Gulf Coast, was shot down by the U.S. Senate last month. Richmond-based Dominion Transmission and three other large utilities have their own plan in the works – a $5 billion pipeline that would take new troves of cheap natural gas extracted by hydraulic fracturing drilling – known as fracking – from West Virginia to Virginia, through Nelson County, around Richmond and on to North Carolina. Kathy Versluys, co-owner of the Acorn B&B, was one of many Nelson residents surprised to learn of the plan in May.

NATIONAL

Keystone XL or Not: How Does America Move Oil Now?
The Brookings Institution
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has stirred considerable debate about the future of American energy policy. While the Senate’s recent vote to block its construction tables the discussion for the time being, it does not resolve major questions about how the U.S. transports oil today. With the ongoing shale gas boom, the U.S. is set to pass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer. Looking beyond KXL, such a rapid rise in production means American transportation networks are straining under new pressures to safely and efficiently move all this energy between different markets. The following figures show how Keystone XL might fit into America’s energy future by illustrating the complex, changing way we transport oil today:

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