MDN Weekly Update – May 29, 2011

poll resultsThank you to those who voted in last week’s online poll. Here are the results:

Should Marcellus Shale pipeline companies be granted public utility status (i.e. eminent domain)?

No (74%, 151 Votes)
Yes (23%, 47 Votes)
Not sure (3%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 204

This Week’s Poll

This week I wade into waters few dare to go: the global warming (or climate change or whatever you want to call it) debate. I do so because of the interest in the story I posted this past week about the Cornell study recently published by Profs. Howarth, Ingraffea and Santoro. That study says, among other things, that using shale gas—not only burning it, but also the process of drilling it and transporting it—is a bigger contributor to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than mining and burning coal. A writer on the Council on Foreign Relations website pointed out new findings from the Department of Energy that refutes the methodology and resulting conclusions from the Howarth study.

Many who oppose drilling for Marcellus Shale gas do so because of their philosophical viewpoint, a viewpoint that believes (oversimplification here) that burning fossil fuels are bad because they cause an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting in an increase in the average temperature on the earth with potentially catastrophic effects. That line of thinking or viewpoint is represented in the work by Howarth et al. Those who hold that viewpoint generally support alternative sources of energy like wind and solar and believe that humans should, more or less, be forced to change to those sources of energy.

There are others, MDN among them, who do not believe man is contributing in any meaningful way to an increase in global warming—at least not to the extent that it endangers anyone or anything on planet earth. Can and does air pollution exist? Of course. Do carbon-based fuels contribute to said pollution? Yes. But is mankind’s burning of carbon-based fossil fuels leading to doomsday for life on earth because of greenhouse gases? No. Not in my opinion. And not in the opinion of many scientists and experts.

Maybe you think man does contribute to the “problem” of global warming, but man’s contribution is not dangerous. Maybe you think all fossil fuel use should end asap. Maybe you think using natural gas, because of lower carbon emissions than oil and coal is the best solution for now, but not for the long-term. People come down on all sides of the debate. I’ve tried to word the poll this week to get at the root philosophy or belief that may or may not lead people to support or oppose drilling. It’s not a perfect question, but hopefully will do the trick.

Do you think burning fossil fuels like natural gas causes dangerously high levels of global warming?

If you believe there is a direct connection between burning fossil fuels and dangerously high global warming, my guess is that you oppose drilling for shale gas. You may have other reasons to oppose drilling (impact on water supplies, etc.). But fundamentally, if you believe the planet is endangered by carbon, my guess is you don’t want drilling. Am I right?

Go to any page on the website and click to vote on the right-hand side of the page in this week’s poll. 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 22 – May 28)

  1. Chesapeake Files Application to Drill First Well in Columbiana County (Ohio) Targeting the Utica Shale (5/23/11)
  2. Howarth, Ingraffea Shale Gas Study on Global Warming Discredited by U.S. Department of Energy (5/23/11)
  3. Forced Pooling for Landowners in the Marcellus Shale Region (5/24/11)
  4. Carroll County, OH Landowners Offered $3200 Per Acre for Shale Gas Leases (5/25/11)
  5. Chesapeake, 14 Other Energy Companies Have Drilling Permits for Utica Shale in Ohio (4/18/11)

Five Most Viewed Stories Two Weeks Ago (May 15 – May 21)

  1. The Real News About the Marist Opinion Poll on Marcellus Shale Drilling in New York State (5/17/11)
  2. The Economics of Converting Vehicles to Natural Gas (5/16/11)
  3. Will There be New Marcellus Drilling Regulations Passed by the PA Legislature This Year? (5/16/11)
  4. Chesapeake, 14 Other Energy Companies Have Drilling Permits for Utica Shale in Ohio (4/18/11)
  5. PA Public Utility Commission Grants Utility Status to Pipeline Company Giving it Eminent Domain Powers (5/20/11)

Five Most Viewed Stories Last 30 Days (Apr 28 – May 28)

  1. List of 78 Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid in Pennsylvania (6/30/10)
  2. Chesapeake, 14 Other Energy Companies Have Drilling Permits for Utica Shale in Ohio (4/18/11)
  3. Drilling in the Utica Shale in PA – Ranges Says Yes, Williams Says No (5/2/11)
  4. Chesapeake Energy Paying $2,500 per Acre to Lease Utica Shale (4/11/11)
  5. Chevron Continues Aggressive Expansion into Marcellus Shale in PA – Buys Leases for Additional 228K Acres from Chief Oil & Gas (5/5/11)

MDN Calendar (May 29 – June 11)

New York


  • Anonymous

    95% or better of accredited scientists support the global warming hypothesis. MDN twists that fact to say that “MANY scientists and experts” do NOT support the thesis”. How did MDN arrive at “many”? – well apparently, 5% is “many” in the eyes of Jim Willis. Having found an “expert” who proclaims that the cow jumped over the moon, Jim can now pronounce that ” People come down on all sides of the debate.” Oh really? Jim, could you please be a tad more specific as to what constitutes “all sides”?. It seems to me that a ratio of 95% to 5% is not very well represented.

    There is a Harvard Phd – a psychologist – who believes in alien abduction. To my knowledge he is the only one to do so, but Jim Willis would say that ” People come down on all sides of the debate” on alien abduction.Jim loves the word “many” because it is a substitute for academic rigor. He uses “many” again to state that “many” opponents of gas drilling do so because of a philosophical viewpoint. Of course, he should have used the word “some” instead of “many”, as he should have said about the experts, but “some” or “a few” just doesn’t have that ring that Jim is looking for. Anyhow, you get the drift of where Jim is coming from and where he is going.

  • Thanks for illustrating my point so well Paul.

  • Anonymous

    Hang in there Jim.  Paul’s post is a fine example of the intimidation tactics used in academic circles to control public discourse.  There are literally hundreds of technical professionals and scientists that have publicly stated their skepticism of the global warming research and conclusions. Inferred in Paul’s reply is the general theme that anyone with education and sense, or at least 95% of them, agree with the findings, so those that don’t sign on must be intellectually challenged.  I for one refuse to be intimidated or persuaded by such tactics, and in fact would question the source of his 95% statistic.  A shame their research can’t convince people based on its merits, but that is what happens when science gets corrupted by politics.  Not that much different than all the hydraulic fracturing hysteria.  The absence of a single instance of hydraulic fracture communication into a fresh water aquifer has not slowed down the fear-mongers one bit.  Maybe some day they will catch on that communication problems that sometimes do arise in oil&gas operations are almost always mechanical integrity issues with the wellbore.