Important Developments in NY Fracking Ban Court Cases

court gavelThere’s been an important development in two cases on appeal in New York State courts that challenge municipal bans of fracking. The two cases challenge municipal fracking bans in the Town of Dryden, NY (see this MDN story for background) and the Town of Middlefield, NY (see this MDN story for background).

According to lead attorney Tom West, all the necessary paperwork for both cases has been filed (called “perfecting” the case). West believes both cases will make it onto the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court docket for an early February hearing of oral arguments. The Appellate Division typically issues an opinion 6-8 weeks following oral arguments, so we should have a decision by late spring. In addition and of keen interest, the plaintiff in one of the cases has changed.

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Why Do Drillers Prefer the Marcellus/Utica? (from S&P Report)

Why is the Marcellus Shale and its first cousin the Utica Shale so darned popular—more popular for drillers than other shale plays in the U.S.? Is it because of the size of the play—the Marcellus and Utica is the largest play in the U.S.? Not really, or maybe we should say not exclusively. The recent report issued by Standard & Poor’s titled “How The Marcellus Shale Is Changing The Dynamics Of The U.S. Energy Industry” (see this MDN story) contains a very interesting section that MDN believes gives the answer to the question of why the Marcellus is so popular for drillers. It won’t come as a surprise to you that economics play a key role.

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Marcellus Shale Top 15 Drillers (from S&P Report)

MDN highlighted an important and insightful new study from Standard & Poor’s yesterday titled “How The Marcellus Shale Is Changing The Dynamics Of The U.S. Energy Industry” (see this MDN story). There’s a lot of great content in the study, some of which deserves to be highlighted in separate posts here on MDN. One such section is their “Top 15 Drillers” in the Marcellus, as ranked by how much natural gas is produced by those drillers in the Marcellus. We’ve inserted the chart below, re-worked by MDN.

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Top 20 U.S. Natural Gas Producers

MDN highlighted part one of a new series of articles appearing on the Seeking Alpha website on the topic of rig counts and what they see as a coming natural gas shortage (see this MDN story). The series continues with part two. Of keen interest in the second installment is a slide from a Chesapeake Energy presentation showing the top 20 U.S. natural gas producers (based on production volume) with columns showing how many rigs they’re running and the percentage change in the number of rigs from January of 2010 to September 2012. Most startling is Chesapeake’s own rig count, which has gone from 110 active rigs in 2010 to just 9 at the end of September 2012—a 92% reduction. Wow!

There’s a lot of great detail in this chart. Here it is (click on the chart for a larger view):

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New Website Debuts Listing Research, Articles on Marcellus

Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs have collaborated to create an important new website aimed at providing links to research and articles on the web for public officials and the public in general on the topic of the Marcellus and Utica Shale. The website, called “A Research Guide to the Marcellus and Utica Shales” (, links to over 1,200 research studies, articles and other resources. The information is categorized making it easier to locate related articles.

If you happen to click the category for “In the News” (their list of resources that regularly write about the Marcellus/Utica) you’ll find MDN in their select and very short list of 19 news resources. Obviously someone working on the project has good taste. 😉 Here’s the background for how the project and website came to be:

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PA Supreme Court Hears Testimony on Act 13 Zoning

Yesterday MDN told you about what we consider the most important oil and gas drilling case to go before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in many years (see this MDN story). The PA Supremes heard arguments (yesterday) in what MDN considers the second most important O&G case to be heard in years—whether or not the zoning provisions in the Act 13 law are constitutional. Were there any indications from the questioning which way the judges might rule?

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