A number of landowners from Belmont County, Ohio made the trip to Wheeling, WV last week to sign leases to allow drilling in the Utica Shale on their property. The leases were signed with XTO Energy, now a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil. The price landowners got for Utica leases rivals the highest prices MDN has heard of for any Marcellus Shale lease, in no small part because of Chesapeake Energy’s recent discovery of natural gas liquids and even oil in the Utica Shale in Ohio.
Recently released data on drilling violations from the PA Department of Environmental Protection show that problems continue with the cemented steel casings that are designed to protect groundwater from methane and the fluids used to frack wells. The violations do not mean methane or fluids escaped into local groundwater aquifers—but the potential exists when a well is not cased properly. So far in 2011, 65 wells have been cited for faulty casing and cementing. Out of the many thousands of wells drilled and fracked each year in Pennsylvania, that’s not a bad ratio, but it’s certainly nowhere near acceptable. As DEP Secretary Michael Krancer has said, “One case of methane migration or well contamination is one case too many.” The industry needs to do better.
As predicted by MDN on Friday (see here), the Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light (PA-IPL) religious organization declared in their press conference of Sunday that “ethical drilling” of Marcellus Shale gas essentially equals “no drilling.” Like many other anti-drilling organizations, the PA-IPL is driven by ideology: they seek renewable energy nirvana. They have drunken deeply from the man-causes-global-warming mythology/religion. They view fossil fuels as immoral. MDN suspects however, that the leaders of the PA-IPL don’t peddle bicycles everywhere they want to go but instead use gas-powered vehicles. And no doubt they fly around on jets burning fossil fuels to spread their inanities. And heat their homes with nasty coal-generated electricity. Can anyone say “hypocrite”?
One day after Anschutz Exploration announced it would file a lawsuit against Dryden, NY (Tompkins County) to overturn a local ban on gas drilling in that township (see MDN story here), another lawsuit against another township in New York State has been filed. This new case was filed by landowner and township resident Jennifer Huntington against the Township of Middlefield in Otsego County. This suit, like the one from Anschutz, says the township has passed what amounts to an illegal law targeting the oil and gas industry, an industry that is specifically regulated by the state according to New York State law. The township’s ban infringes Ms. Huntington’s private property rights as a landowner to allow gas drilling on her land. A copy of the lawsuit is embedded below.
Those who oppose natural gas drilling do so because it threatens their ideology that renewable energy should be the only available option. Renewable energy supporters don’t seem to care that it costs 3-5 times more (that’s 300-500 percent more) for electricity from renewable sources than from fossil fuel sources. Rather than celebrate our good fortune in finding a cheap, abundant source of something that pollutes far less than other sources—shale gas—they attack it and claim it’s just as bad as the dirtiest coal. It’s sad, really.
Here’s yet another example of so-called renewables failing the economic test, an example sure to push some of the antis over the edge. It looks like the $1 billion Great Lakes offshore wind farm is yes, out of wind (bad pun intended). And the reason why it’s being canceled? Marcellus Shale gas—abundant, and cheap.
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: