MDN is excited to release an important new resource—a free map—to help you understand the situation in New York State with fracking. A copy of the map is embedded below.
In a nutshell, everyone is waiting (holding our collective breath) for the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to issue a final final final final version of new drilling rules (called the SGEIS) they’ve been working on for more than four years. Previous versions of the SGEIS were introduced but didn’t make the grade. This time, it’s really the final word.
Where will the first permits be issued? That’s what our map will help you figure out. And we tell you why.
An article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal focuses on an issue MDN has covered for some time: how the fight over hydraulic fracturing in New York State has “gone local,” meaning it’s largely going to be decided town by town throughout the state.
The article notes a few statistics—about 100 or so towns have voted for either a short-term moratorium on fracking, or an outright ban. And about 60 or so towns have voted to “support” drilling. (Shameless self-promotion: MDN’s Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook Vol. 2 has the complete list of which towns have voted which way on the issue.)
But the pure numbers of “100 against, 60 for” does not come anywhere close to telling the whole story…
If you kick around the oil and gas industry for any length of time, you’ll hear about something called “the rig count.” Rig counts are the number of drilling rigs in use by energy companies to drill (or “spud”) new wells. If the rig count falls, that means new leasing is likely to fall and eventually, natural gas production will fall. But in the case of the Marcellus, falling rig counts don’t mean falling production—quite the opposite. It just means there’s a whole lot of wells already drilled, waiting to be completed and hooked up to pipelines.
Still, a falling rig count does give you a feel for where new drilling will (or won’t) take place—valuable for landowners and businesses to know. The latest numbers for Pennsylvania show the rig count in that state falling to its lowest level in years:
According to Amy Rutledge, head of the Carroll County, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Carroll County is at the “epicenter” of Utica Shale drilling for the state. She offers these facts and figures to back up that claim:
Last week, New York City Michael Bloomberg “came out” as a supporter of natural gas and hydraulic fracturing (see this MDN story). He’s even committed $6 million of his own money to ensure it happens and is done right in New York and other geographies. Now we know why he’s become an overnight fan of fracking.
On Monday, Mayor Mike released the results of a study commissioned by NYC that looks at the role natural gas already plays for New York (very important), and the critical role it will play in a “sustainable energy” future for NYC once a new law goes into effect banning the use of No. 6 and No. 4 heating oil (eliminated in 2015 and 2030 respectively). A full copy of the study authored by ICF International, titled “Assessment of New York City Natural Gas Market Fundamentals and Life Cycle Fuel Emissions,” is embedded below.
Among the eye-popping conclusions in the study: Shale gas produced in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region right now makes up 30% of the gas flowing to NYC. By 2025, that number will be 80%.
On the ever-present topic of “when will new drilling rules be released in New York,” here’s the latest insight from Tom Wilbur, former reporter for the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and author of “Under the Surface,” a book on shale gas drilling. He writes on his blog:
Sean Lennon, son of the late John Lennon (and unfortunately someone who inherited his mother’s singing talent) is against fracking. So’s his mom, Yoko Ono. In fact, we highlighted a video of Sean and mom Yoko singing (if that’s what you call it) on the Jimmy Falon show (see this MDN story). Simply hilarious. Did they not know people were laughing at them and not with them?
Anywho, Sean—the great intellect and artiste—published an anti-fracking editorial in Monday’s New York Times (the newspaper with sinking standards). Here’s a small sample of his article, talking about where he was raised in Delaware County in rural Upstate New York:
Electric utility Penelec, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. serving 600,000 customers in 31 western Pennsylvania counties, announced they are dropping the rate they charge for electricity for the third quarter in a row, saving the average residential customer an additional 4.2% on their electric bill.
Why the rate drop? In part, because of the Marcellus Shale.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), the powerhouse industry group headquartered in Pittsburgh that provides information to companies part of the drilling industry as well as info for the media, government and other “stakeholders,” yesterday released guidelines for drillers to use in sampling and testing water supplies before drilling commences.
The “Recommended Practices: Pre-Drill Water Supply Surveys” document (embedded below) helps drillers comply with the newly enacted Pennsylvania Act 13 law which requires drillers to sample and test water supplies within 2,500 feet of a proposed Marcellus Shale natural gas well. A certified laboratory must conduct the testing which provides baseline numbers that can be used for comparison during and after drilling to ensure water quality has not been adversely affected.
The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading: