New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens continues the delay and stall tactics he’s become known for on the issue of shale gas drilling in the state. The latest Martens delay came this week when he asked an outside consulting firm—Ecology & Environment—to take a closer look at costs fracking would create for local communities.
MDN chronicled the battle earlier this year between Northeast Natural Energy and the city of Morgantown, WV over Northeast’s plan to drill two Marcellus Shale gas wells near the city. In short, the Morgantown City Council tried to ban drilling both inside and outside city limits—up to one mile outside—which would have prevented Northeast from drilling the two wells.
Morgantown attempted to use a state law which indicates cities can take such actions outside their borders if they believe there is an imminent threat to residents of the city. The ban went to court, and a judge overturned it, clearing the way for Northeast to drill.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is finalizing new state oversight rules on well construction for oil and natural gas that it says will be among the toughest in the U.S. (a copy of the proposed new rules is embedded below). According to ODNR officials, the new rules do not specifically address hydraulic fracturing, although the new rules will apply to horizontally drilled and fracked wells as well as conventional vertical wells. New fracking rules, according to the ODNR, “will be addressed later.”
According to West Virginia officials, one of the keys to attracting an ethane cracker plant to the state is the humble railroad. In locations where there is only a single railroad line, costs are higher, so officials are discussing ways of introducing more rail competition at potential locations in the state should one of those locations be selected as the location for an ethane cracker. Options include building a short-line railroad and either rehabilitating or building new railroad bridges.
The good economic news keeps coming in for the Marcellus and Utica Shales. If approvals come (as expected) from the city of Youngstown, Ohio, Exterran Energy Solutions will build a new $13 million manufacturing facility in the city in 2012. Exterran manufactures parts used in compressors and compressor stations used in the production and transportation of natural gas from shale drilling. The new plant could provide as many as 200 new jobs in the next several years.
At the the Dec. 15 meeting of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) held in Wilkes-Barre, PA, commissioners voted to reject a request from Anadarko Petroleum to withdraw up to 715,000 gallons of water per day from a well near Council Run in Snow Shoe Township (Centre County), PA. The rejection is rare because the SRBC informs requestors ahead of time that a request is likely to be voted down. Apparently Anadarko wanted to move forward with the request despite a warning from the SRBC.
On Monday, Southwestern Energy announced it will spend $2 billion in 2012 on exploration and production, with plans to double their investment in the Marcellus Shale.
From the Southwestern press release:
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: