In early May, the federal Department of Energy (DOE), under the direction of DOE Secretary Steven Chu, assembled a panel of seven experts to create a list of industry “best practices” for shale gas drillers (see MDN story here). Known as the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), the group was charged with producing an initial report in 90 days that will identify immediate steps “to improve the safety and environmental performance of hydraulic fracturing.” That first report was released today (a full copy is embedded below).
The ongoing battle between Morgantown, WV and Northeast Natural Energy over two proposed gas wells located close to Morgantown continues, and gets interesting. Northeast had been working with Morgantown to address concerns that the two wells they propose to drill are close to the water intake for the city. Northeast believed everything was fine until city council voted to ban hydraulic fracturing both inside and outside of its borders—up to one mile outside (allowable under WV law). Northeast’s proposed wells are within that one mile radius, so the ban shut them down. Or did it?
According to press accounts, Northeast has just started work drilling the second Marcellus gas well and plans to start fracking the first well in September, regardless of the ban:
At the prompting of the federal EPA, and perhaps to preempt any action from the EPA, state officials in the Marcellus region are looking closely at air pollution issues that may be caused by shale gas drilling. For example, permits are likely on the way for drillers in Ohio for a whole list of commonly used equipment found in drilling operations, including…diesel and internal combustion engines?!
Mingo Junction, a small village along the Ohio River in Jefferson County, Ohio is looking to tap into revenue from the Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling industry spouting up around it. The mayor and village council are trying to locate alternative sources of revenue since the local steel mill closed, leaving the village in a lurch after constructing a new water treatment plant specifically at the mill’s request. Mingo Junction is looking to leverage the one thing it has plenty of—water.
It seemed for a while like passing Marcellus drilling bans was all the rage for cities in West Virginia. Now it seems they can’t repeal those bans fast enough. The latest to repeal a previous ban is Wellsburg: