U.S. Sen. Robert Casey (Democrat, Pennsylvania) has been an outspoken critic of fracking and Marcellus shale gas drilling. He introduced and is lead sponsor of legislation in the Senate called the FRAC Act—Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (see this MDN story). The title sounds nice with words like “responsibility” and “awareness” in it, but in reality the FRAC Act is a massive power transfer, stripping the right to regulate oil and gas drilling from the individual states and handing it over to the Environmental Protection Agency in the federal government. It’s bad legislation that would gut oil and gas drilling in the United States.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent a violation notice to Chief Oil & Gas on Jan. 4 for three gas wells in Nicholson Township (Wyoming County) saying there is 100 percent combustible gas between the cemented steel casings, which the DEP uses as a sign of flaws in construction of the well. The investigation began after a nearby resident complained of high methane levels in well water supplies. The DEP is still investigating two nearby water wells with high levels of methane and has not yet determined if Chief’s wells are the cause.
Jack Barnes, writing for Money Morning, analyzes the price of natural gas and why it’s so low—and what it ultimately means. He says that numerous shale plays in the U.S. do contribute to an overabundance of supply. But the real culprit, according to Barnes, is that major drillers are going after natural gas liquids (NGL), which can be used in a variety of ways. NGL are closely aligned with the higher price of oil and more valuable. In the process of going after NGL, “dry gas” (or methane) is recovered in the process too. It is the scramble for NGL that leads to an oversupply of methane, and that oversupply keeps natural gas prices low.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has finally gotten around to assessing a fine for a fracking water spill that happened in March 2011—a spill of 800-1,000 gallons of fracking water that the DEP says was preventable.
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: