New Wastewater Treatment Plant Approved in Central PA

Narrowsburg, NY – The River Reporter (Feb 25)
‘Unauthorized’ wastewater hearing brings flowback feedback

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has granted its first permit to a wastewater treatment facility since new, stricter guidelines were recently implemented. From The River Reporter article:

The DEP has issued its first new permit for treating drilling wastewater to TerrAqua Resource Management LLC of Williamsport, allowing the company to treat and discharge 400,000 gallons per day of gas well drilling wastewater into the West Branch Susquehanna River Watershed.

According to the DEP, the permit requires TerrAqua to meet the proposed new regulatory standards of 500 parts per million for total dissolved solids (TDS) and 250 parts per million for chlorides and sulfates. TerrAqua has indicated that it will pursue a thermal treatment process capable of reducing TDS levels to less than 500 parts per million at all times.

The discharge permit also requires TerrAqua to monitor for radioactivity, a large number of metals, including barium, strontium, iron, manganese and aluminum, as well as organics such as toluene, benzene, phenols, ethylene glycol and surfactants.

PA Gov. Rendell Predicts His Proposal to Tax Marcellus Shale Gas is DOA

WTAE Pittsburgh (Feb 25)
Rendell Talks Expanded Sales Tax Plan In Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (Democrat), has proposed a severance tax on natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. But the Governor himself is not optimistic that the Pennsylvania Legislature will pass his proposals. From the WTAE news report:

In addition, Rendell is reviving proposals he has offered before, including extending the tobacco tax to cigars and smokeless tobacco and adding a severance tax on natural gas extraction to capitalize on the industry’s hot pursuit of Marcellus Shale.

However, Rendell said he’s not optimistic the state Legislature will vote for his changes.

New President of Marcellus Shale Coalition Says Drilling Will Bring 110,000 Jobs to PA in 2010

Katie Klaber, the new President of the Marcellus Shale Coalition recently appeared on the Clean Skies News network to discuss the environmental issues of natural gas drilling. It’s an informative and short piece (under 10 minutes), and worth watching (embedded below).

Among the things discussed that MDN found interesting:

  • Ms. Klaber says Marcellus Drilling will bring 110,000 jobs to Pennsylvania in 2010.
  • Some drillers recycle and reuse 100% of fracking water, but the industry average right now is recycling and reusing 60%.
  • Because of the high rate of recycling, a shortage of wastewater treatment facilities is not critical at the moment, but more facilities will be needed in the next few years.
  • Drilling companies already have an MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) at the drilling site for each and every chemical used in the fracking process. That is right now, today. So the hue and cry that drillers are “hiding” the chemicals used in fracking is not true.
  • Ms. Klaber predicts that Pennsylvania will be a net exporter of natural gas by 2014.

Southwestern Energy Investing $145 Million and Drilling 35-40 Wells in the Marcellus in 2010

MarketWatch/PR Newswire (Feb 25)
Southwestern Energy Announces 2009 Financial and Operating Results

Southerwestern Energy made it’s 2009 results known today in a press release. Of concern to landowners in the Marcellus, particularly in northeastern PA, is this paragraph:

Appalachia – The company began leasing in northeastern Pennsylvania in 2007 in an effort to gain a position in the emerging Marcellus Shale play. At December 31, 2009, Southwestern had approximately 149,000 net acres in Pennsylvania under which it believes the Marcellus Shale is prospective. The company’s undeveloped acreage position as of December 31, 2009 had an average remaining lease term of 5 years, an average royalty interest of 13% and was obtained at an average cost of approximately $594 per acre. During 2009, Southwestern invested approximately $40 million in Pennsylvania, almost all of which was for acquisition of acreage. In 2010, the company plans to invest approximately $145 million in Appalachia, which includes drilling with one operated rig in the Marcellus Shale play in Pennsylvania and participating in a total of 35 to 40 wells, 21 to 24 of which will be operated.