Ohio Village Flouts State Law, Passes Drilling Ban

home rule in effect signThe so-called home rule issue is cropping up in Ohio. Home rule is when a local municipality believes it has the right to govern or ban oil and gas drilling within its borders, using local zoning laws, even though in most states (like Ohio) the right and responsibility to govern oil and gas drilling is vested in the state and not in municipalities.

Ohio now has it’s first municipality (located in Greene County) to flout state law by passing a drilling ban. It passed 3-2—a single vote stripped away property rights of residents to allow drilling on or under their land. Here’s the details:

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US Silica Opens New Frack Sand Storage Facility in Ohio

U.S. Silica, the country’s second largest domestic producer of commercial sand, announced yesterday they’ve partnered with S.H. Bell Company to open a new silica sand storage facility (railroad transload facility) in Columbiana County, Ohio to serve drillers in the rapidly expanding Utica and Marcellus Shale plays.

From the press release:

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Pittsburgh City Council Floats New Law to Allow Fracking

It seems since former Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields left that august body the other council members have had a change of heart on fracking. Shields was the ringleader who helped ram through a ban on fracking in the city in 2010. He also tried to get a ban permanently written into the city’s charter, an effort that failed (see this MDN story).

Realizing the ban passed in 2010 is likely illegal and will be overturned, council members are now considering new legislation to allow limited, strictly zoned fracking inside city limits:

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Chesapeake Develops Environmentally “Green” Fracking Fluid

Baker Hughes and Halliburton both have hydraulic fracturing solutions that are “green”—using fluids to frack that contain no harmful chemicals. In fact Halliburton’s solution boasts its fracking mixture contains only compounds that are food-grade.

Chesapeake Energy is the latest entrant into the green fracking fluid club. According to the company, they aren’t quite ready to roll it out just yet, but they’re getting close:

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Waterless Fracking and the Insatiable NRDC

An article in Engineering News does a brief roundup of new waterless (or near waterless) hydraulic fracturing technologies by Baker Hughes and others, pointing out efforts under way within the industry to cut down and in some cases eliminate the water used during fracking. Using less water is a good thing, right? Of course it is, but nothing short of banning fossil fuels will satisfy unreasonable and extreme environmental groups, like the National Resources Defense Council, as evidenced in the final paragraph of the story:

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NY Pro-Drilling Groups Launch Media Campaign “Honest Debate”

Saying it’s been long enough and asking for “an honest debate,” the Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA) of New York, Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and other pro-drilling groups launched a new media campaign this week to get the message out to the public in general, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in particular, that it’s time to begin drilling in New York State.

Two new radio spots are running (listen below), along with a newspaper ad (embedded below). Here’s the press announcement accompanying the launch of the new campaign:

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Carroll County’s Dim View on Higher Severance Taxes

When the miracle of hydraulic fracturing shows up in a community, jobs, money and economic expansion show up too. Not far behind are politicians who want to stick their hands into the pockets of those doing the hard work (the energy companies) and those making it possible (the landowners) so they can “spread the wealth around” to those who don’t do the hard work and don’t make it possible (it’s called buying votes). It’s a powerful temptation that both Democrats and Republicans have a hard time resisting.

Case in point: Ohio.

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Kentucky Ethylene Plant Switches to Marcellus Ethane

Although a very small area of Kentucky is underlain by the Marcellus Shale, to MDN’s knowledge, there is no active shale gas drilling in the state. But that doesn’t mean Kentucky isn’t about to benefit in a big way from the Marcellus Shale.

A few days ago, Westlake Chemical Corporation announced they will convert an ethylene manufacturing plant they operate in Calvert City, KY from using propane to using low-cost ethane from the Marcellus Shale as their raw material or “feedstock.” They’re also increasing the capacity of the plant.

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New IHS Report Compares OH Utica Shale to TX Eagle Ford Shale

IHS Cera, a global consulting and information service, recently published a new report on the Utica Shale and its potential. Although MDN has not seen the full report, the press release announcing the report contains a good bit of useful information about the IHS findings. IHS compares the Utica to the highly productive Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, saying there are many parallels, but cautioning it’s still very early in the game.

Here’s the full release with lots of juicy tidbits, including which well has produced the most oil in the Ohio Utica:

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