MDN Weekly Update – May 15, 2011

Thank you to all of you who voted in last week’s (and MDN’s first-ever) online poll. Here are the results from 403 MDN readers:

imageAre You in Favor of Shale Gas Drilling?
Yes – with safeguards in place (69%, 278 Votes)
No – can’t be done safely (26%, 103 Votes)
Not sure – still forming an opinion (5%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 403

This Week’s Poll

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I believe the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is “out of bounds” in trying to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It is my opinion that regulation of gas drilling is best left to the individual states. Others will argue that water crosses boundaries in the form of rivers and streams and aquifers, and therefore a federal role is important to protect water supplies. I’m interested in knowing what you think. So this week’s question, as plainly and succinctly as I can ask it (no hidden agendas, no attempt to manipulate the outcome for those who like to needle me) is: Should the federal EPA regulate hydraulic fracturing? Go to any page on the website and click to vote on the right-hand side of the page. I’ll report the results next week.

Below you’ll find the “top 5” lists and this week’s calendar listings.

Happy reading,
Jim Willis, Editor

Five Most Viewed Stories This Week (May 8 – May 14)

  1. Former PA DEP Officials, Industry Group Point Out Problems with Duke University Study Linking Methane in Water with Fracking (5/11/11)
  2. MDN In-depth: Duke University Study Links Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling with Methane Contamination of Water Wells (5/10/11)
  3. Surprise! New York State’s Pension Fund Invests $1 Billion in Shale Gas Drilling Companies (5/9/11)
  4. Ohio’s First Marcellus Shale Wastewater Treatment Plant Now Open for Business (5/11/11)
  5. Pro-Drilling Supporters Meet with Legislative Officials in Albany, NY – Gov. Cuomo Stresses Patience (5/12/11)

Five Most Viewed Stories Two Weeks Ago (May 1 – May 7)

  1. Drilling in the Utica Shale in PA – Ranges Says Yes, Williams Says No (5/2/11)
  2. The Prospects for Continued Expansion of Marcellus Drilling – Some Companies Cooling on Shale Gas Drilling (5/4/11)
  3. New Technology May Hold Key to Cleaning Fracking Fluids, Early Tests Very Promising (5/3/11)
  4. Maryland AG Sues Chesapeake Energy Over Spill in Pennsylvania (5/3/11)
  5. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)

Five Most Viewed Stories Last 30 Days (Apr 14 – May 14)

  1. Chesapeake, 14 Other Energy Companies Have Drilling Permits for Utica Shale in Ohio (4/18/11)
  2. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)
  3. PA DEP, Marcellus Shale Coalition Admit Drilling Wastewater Likely Contaminating Drinking Water (4/19/11)
  4. Chesapeake Energy Paying $2,500 per Acre to Lease Utica Shale (4/11/11)
  5. Chesapeake Well in Bradford County, PA has Blowout; Chesapeake Temporarily Stops All Drilling Until Cause is Known (4/22/11)

MDN Calendar (May 15 – May 21)


New York




  • Otegogas


    You forgot the most important news story of the week, gas drilling causes public health problems.

    The process used to extract gas from shale is flawed – it CANNOT be accomplished without harming the environment and public health.  The proof is in the weekly headlines from all across the US, and the gas industry has no one to blame for the anti-drilling sentiment sweeping the country (make that the world the world – France just banned hydrofracking) but themselves.

    Nothing the gas industry can say changes this inconvenient “fact”, so instead, let’s pretend it just isn’t so!

    “Study: Fracking health impacts underestimated” :
    Garfield County assessment examined for local application


  • Guest

    What I want to know is what are these people going to complain about next when and if alternatives to hydraulic fracturing are put into place – if I am understanding correctly there has been at least one alternative successfully tested.

    I understand the necessity to be environmentally cautious but it appears to me there are just too many people who are taking this entire thing to the extreme.

    Have they ever researched if other industries have (and maybe still are) polluted the Susquehanna and other waterways or water sources over the course of the years…I would bet they would be surprised. 

  • I did cover the story, extensively, this past week. What the Duke study did was to raise questions–important questions that need to be answered. I’m not minimizing it at all. But, the study was very limited in geography and frankly “proves” nothing–yet. A wider study needs to be done. And the charge that you make that methane migration is causing a public health issue frankly is not true. I wouldn’t personally care to drink water contaminated with methane, but if I did, it wouldn’t hurt me. Stated in the “results” of the study itself is that admission–the concern is for wells exploding.

    So go ahead and do your happy dance. But don’t get depressed when further study of the matter may turn out results you may not like. 🙂

  • Reanneca

    The study didn’t say it was safe to drink water contaminated with methane. It said drinking it once or twice wouldn’t hurt you. That is not the same thing as saying the tapwater in your house, if contaminated with methane would be safe to drink on a regular basis. 

  • Good points Becky.

  • AreaMan

    Methane comes out of solution very quickly, so the only likely hazards are asphyxiation, and explosion/flammability.  But you are correct, there isn’t much info available on ingesting very low levels over a period of time.  It probably isn’t an issue but it’s also not a common topic of research/study.
    Read through these links for additional info if you want the story:

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