The first application for a drilling permit has been received in Columbiana County, Ohio, and it’s an application to drill in the Utica Shale with the hope of someday striking oil. This is likely the first of many applications to come, according to Ohio officials.
For some time now, MDN has admired (and referenced) the work done by drilling industry group Energy in Depth (EID). Chris Tucker and the people at EID work hard to bring the pro-drilling side of the story to the masses and to counterbalance much of the hype and rhetoric circulated in the media. EID recently launched a new website for the Northeast Marcellus region under the leadership of Tom Shepstone (//eidmarcellus.org).
EID has also launched a major new grassroots initiative now spreading from county to county in the region. EID and the Northeast Marcellus Initiative should be on your list of “must read” resources if you’re interested in the Marcellus Shale drilling debate.
A little more than a month ago, Robert Howarth, a Cornell University professor of ecology and environmental biology, along with two other Cornell professors, Renee Santoro and Tony Ingraffea, published a peer-reviewed study in the journal Climate Change titled, “Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations.” The study evaluates natural gas from shale compared with other energy sources with respect to how much “greenhouse gases” are created during the extraction process. The study makes the claim that shale gas extraction is actually worse for the environment than burning coal because of greenhouse gases.
The initial media reaction was a breathless Paul Revere-style recitation of the slug “shale gas worse for global warming than coal.” Howarth’s paper has now been roundly refuted by none other than the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. Howarth, Santoro and Ingraffea’s conclusions are based on assumptions rather than hard data, and those assumptions were wrong.
One of the concerns landowners and those living near Marcellus gas well drilling sites and gas compressor stations have is potential air pollution. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) periodically conducts air sample testing near compressor stations and active drilling sites. The latest results show the air is safe to breathe.
Pennsylvania has a decades old problem with abandoned coal mines. The mines fill with rain water. The water becomes highly acidic and contains dissolved metals such as iron, aluminum and manganese. The water then runs off into waterways and is responsible for thousands of miles of streams that are uninhabitable for wildlife and not suitable for human use. Marcellus Shale gas drilling may provide at least a partial solution to the problem.