Interest in Ohio’s Utica Shale gas is booming as evidenced by the ramp up in the number of drilling permits issued. More than half of all permits issued have come in the last three months.
While it would be unfair to say that support or opposition to shale gas drilling breaks strictly along political party lines, it is not unfair to point out this observation: Those who oppose drilling are mostly Democrats, while those who support drilling are mostly Republican. MDN has seen it again and again in public opinion polling data, and in news stories. Here’s the latest news story, this one from Ohio, which further supports MDN’s observation:
Cecil Township in Washington County, PA—a suburb of Pittsburgh—recently passed an ordinance changing shale gas drilling from a permitted use to a conditional use, meaning each well drilled would have to be approved by the township on a case by case basis. It requires drillers to do twice the work—once in filing a permit application with the state, and a second time with the local municipality. Range Resources, one of the nation’s largest Marcellus Shale drillers (and with operations in Cecil), has just filed a lawsuit requesting the new ordinance be overturned.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) which oversees oil and gas drilling in the state has issued new guidelines for evaluating air pollution sources from oil and gas operations. Specifically, the new guidelines clarify when operations should be considered a single source, and when operations will be considered separately, thereby facing stricter permit requirements. The move tightens controls over potential sources of air pollution from drilling and related operations.
Under threat of a lawsuit, supervisors in Columbus Township (Warren County, PA) reversed their previous ban on the disposal of fracking fluids in two injection wells in the township (see this previous MDN story about the lawsuit).
Injection wells are deep wells used to dispose of fracking fluid from those drillers who do not recycle all of the fracking fluid used in their drilling operations. The fluid is pumped into the wells under high pressure, forcing it deep into the ground. Ohio has hundreds of such injection wells due to a better underground geography. However, PA currently has only a relative handful of injection wells (less than a dozen?), including the two in Columbus Township.
Some banks are getting into the business of advising their customers, like farmers, on what kind of gas lease to sign when energy companies come knocking. The wealth management divisions of banks are branching out into what has been traditionally the turf of lawyers. One such bank is S&T Bancorp, based in Indiana, PA.
When drilling is concentrated in one area, some problems are bound to crop up.
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: