A new Marcellus drilling law (highlights of the law listed below) passed in a special session of the West Virginia legislature and has been signed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin into law. Yesterday, the WV House of Delegates voted 92-5 and the Senate voted 33-0 to pass the measure, known as the “Horizontal Well Act,” which was immediately signed by the governor.
Although it only took the WV legislature four days in a special session to pass the measure, in reality, it has taken most of this year to draft, tweak and alter the language of the bill to prepare it ahead of the special session.
In December 2009, Dimock Township (PA) resident Scott Ely, an employee of Cabot Oil & Gas drilling subsidiary GasSearch Drilling Services, made claims of hidden or ignored spills, leaking pits and shoddy practices to both state environmental regulators and Cabot officials. Ely identified 11 sites where he said such problems had occurred. Cabot contracted with URS Corp. to investigate the claims and either prove or disprove them. A final URS report has just been issued which says it found nothing in the streams, ponds and soil it sampled at levels that would pose a risk to human health.
The report (a copy is embedded below) says URS did find some substances which may indicate past spills from natural gas drilling operations, but that the substances they found do not have state-mandated limits for soil and water.
Maryland continues to skip down the primrose path to no shale gas drilling. Earlier this year, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed a Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission to study whether or not the state should even allow shale gas drilling (see this MDN story). The committee is due to turn in a preliminary report by the end of this year, but the final report is not due until 2014. All indicators are that if Maryland allows shale gas drilling, it will be so restrictive and so heavily taxed, it will be stillborn. No drillers will even bother.
The latest evidence of that comes from the commission’s recommendation that drillers be presumed to be guilty of certain environmental “crimes” until proven innocent. To wit:
Results from two different surveys on resident’s attitudes toward shale gas drilling in New York and Pennsylvania were delivered at the Agribusiness Economic Outlook Conference, held Dec. 13 at Cornell University. Richard Stedman, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell, reported the following from a survey of 6,000 residents in both New York and Pennsylvania:
A new study released Wednesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers on shale gas and its impact on U.S. manufacturing finds that by 2025 manufacturers will employ an additional one million workers and will have saved some $11.6 billion in energy costs—all due to an abundance of domestic shale gas supplies. The report also cautions that manufacturers must help manage the environmental, regulatory and tax concerns created by shale gas resources to realize those results. A copy of the full report is embedded below.
Yesterday, U.S. oil and gas exploration firm Endeavour International Corp announced they were bailing out of a deal to buy the Marcellus holdings of SM Energy (no stated reason for abandoning the deal). This was the single-sentence press release they issued: