After the PA Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection, John Hanger, summoned Marcellus Shale drilling companies to a meeting, he proceeded to “challenge” them to comply with new drilling rules that likely won’t be adopted until this fall. Talk about arrogant.
“I urged the industry to implement the stronger standards immediately and not wait for the rule to be finalized,” Mr. Hanger said. “I challenged the industry to set a world-class example.”
The summit came ahead of action by the state Environmental Quality Board on Monday on several proposed regulations to require that oil field-grade cement be used in Marcellus Shale wells, to delineate responsibility and notification procedures for gas migration problems and to strengthen requirements for treating drilling wastewater and limiting sediment erosion from wells. Mr. Hanger expects the rules to be adopted by fall.*
Certainly nothing wrong with new rules to help prevent a repeat of the situation in Dimock, PA from recurring, which supposedly the new rules will help guard against. However, MDN continues to notice that Hanger’s tone is increasingly confrontational rather than collaborative.
*Scranton Times Tribune (May 14) – DEP head asks gas drillers to comply with new rules
Little, rural Bradford County located in northeastern Pennsylvania is seeing a boom in new jobs:
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, Bradford County led the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in net job growth from March of 2009 to March 2010.
According to the Northern Tier Regional Planning & Development Commission (NTRPDC), the 2,000 jobs gained represented a 7.2 percent increase while most counties suffered losses in employment. Bradford County saw the unemployment rate drop from 10 percent a year ago to 7.4 percent now.*
And also this:
Tioga County [PA] gained 800 jobs, the third-best improvement of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties.*
How can that be? Simple: Both counties have very active Marcellus Shale drilling.
*Wyalusing Rocket-Courier (May 13) – Bradford County Leads Commonwealth in Job Growth
Like neighboring Chemung County, NY, officials in Steuben County, NY are actively considering accepting Marcellus drill cuttings (leftover dirt and rock from drilling gas wells) in the county landfill. Drillers over the border in Pennsylvania are looking for a location to dump the cuttings. The debate over whether to accept drill cuttings always centers on whether there is radioactivity in the cuttings and if it will become a problem down the road when liquids leach from the landfill into groundwater supplies. Chemung County has done extensive research and finds the radioactivity levels to be very low—and safe. Chemung County currently accepts drill cuttings, and now Steuben County is considering it too.
“Right now, we’re just talking about relatively small amounts we would bring in, if we brought it in. We want to be sure of ourselves though,” said Steuben County public works commissioner Vince Spagnoletti.*
As with Chemung County, economics is driving the decision for Steuben County as well:
Spagnoletti says bringing in around 10,000 tons per year of the drill cuttings could raise around $300,000 to the operational budget of the landfill.*
That’s a potential $300,000 that taxpayers would not have to pony up.
*YNN Your News Now (May 11) – Steuben County may allow Marcellus shale debris to be dumped in landfill
The New York Times recently ran an article talking about the emerging importance of natural gas from shale around the world. The article focuses on Poland and Europe, who have a desire to cut their energy dependence on Russia. But the article also includes these statements about the importance of shale gas in the United States:
The attraction of shale gas is already well known in the United States, where diversification is an advanced theme in energy policy. With the discovery of big shale deposits several years ago, shale gas now accounts for nearly a fifth of the U.S. natural gas supply, compared with just 1 percent in 2000, according to a recent study by IHS CERA, an independent energy research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Shale gas “ranks as the most significant energy innovation so far this century,” IHS CERA said in a recent report. “It has the potential at least to cause a paradigm shift in the fueling of North America’s energy future.”*
*New York Times (May 11) – Eastern Europe, Seeking Energy Security, Turns to Shale Gas