Last week the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported they filed a required every-three-year air pollution study with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The results? Because of fracking and a change away from burning coal to burning natural gas for electrical power generation, all major forms of air pollution, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds, have gone down—significantly (see “Thank You for Fracking” – Air Pollution Goes Down in PA).
MDN now has a copy of the official numbers filed by the DEP to the EPA (see the files embedded below showing the data). It appears to us there is a “rest of the story” in the DEP’s numbers. While air pollution numbers are extremely positive and have gone down significantly as a statewide average, in counties with a lot of Marcellus Shale drilling, air pollution numbers have gone up. Compared to the levels found in other counties, we’d call it a “significant” increase. Is there cause for concern?
Last week New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens dropped a bombshell. He said even if new fracking rules are not officially adopted, he has the power to move forward with issuing permits for horizontal shale drilling/fracking (see Deadline for NY Fracking Regs Slips Again…Or Does It?). Was Martens being truthful? Is he mistaken? Or is he simply trying to get landowners to hold off on filing a lawsuit for “takings” that, if successful, might bankrupt the state over their illegal actions? Martens’ comments from last week are an ongoing source of debate and speculation. What, exactly, did he mean? Can he really do that?
Nearly a month ago MDN told you the directors of the Ohio Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) would consider a deal with Antero Resources to allow drilling and fracking on 6,700 acres under and around the Seneca Lake area (see OH Muskingum Watershed District to Sign Drilling Lease in Feb.). At the time, details of the deal were still not disclosed, but we theorized based on past deals the MWCD would probably make around $40 million in new lease payments.
The directors at the Watershed District voted to pass the deal last Friday. The amount they’ll get for a signing bonus? $40.3 million—or $6,200 per acre for leasing 6,500 acres (acreage number was adjusted down a bit). Plus 20% royalties.
Marcellus Shale driller Seneca Resources, the exploration and production division of National Fuel Gas Company, is threatening to sue Highland Township (Elk County), PA if they block an injection well Seneca plans to drill on their own property. The details from SNL:
Last week the Town of Olive, in Ulster County (Hudson Valley area) became the latest New York town to ban fracking—even though the town sits in the New York City watershed and the DEC has declared watershed areas off-limits for fracking. Why ban it then? Environmentalism run amok, and sheer ignorance:
A worker transferring wastewater from a holding tank to a truck at an already-drilled EQT well pad site in Taylor County, WV was killed when something at the site caused an explosion. The WV DEP is investigating.
Drilling in Ohio’s Utica Shale took off like a rocket in 2012. It seemed a week did not go by without new permits to drill being issued in counties like Carroll, Guernsey, Belmont, Harrison and Noble. But two counties in eastern Ohio have not been caught up in the drilling frenzy, at least so far: Coshocton and Muskingum. Has drilling passed by them? Not according to officials in both counties.
The head of the Coshocton Port Authority says it’s early innings yet:
New York State is drama central when it comes to whether or not shale drilling will happen. The big drama is whether the dithering Andrew Cuomo will finally make a decision and stick to it—he’s been called “Hamlet on the Shale” for his indecisiveness by no less than the New York Times. The second biggest drilling-related drama concerns where drilling will happen and whether or not local municipalities can control it. A pair of court cases heads for a hearing in March to help determine that.
As MDN has covered ad nauseam in the past, the town of Dryden (in Tompkins County) and Middlefield (in Otsego County) were sued to overturn their bans on the practice of hydraulic fracturing. Those court cases will be heard in March at the Appellate Court level. The New York State Association of Towns filed an “Amicus Brief” (“friend of the court” brief) supporting the two towns’ right to ban fracking. However, a group of towns in the Southern Tier of New York have filed their own letter with the Appellate Court that says in essence, “Wait a minute, NYSAT doesn’t speak for us!”
The Boston Globe features an article in today’s issue praising the miracle of hydraulic fracturing for keeping oil and gasoline prices lower than they otherwise would be, and highlighting the fact that domestically-produced oil (from fracking) is forcing Middle Eastern countries to keep their oil prices competitive.
When was the last time you read a quote in mainstream/liberal media about fracking in U.S. shale plays being a “game-changer” and something good? Yeah, we can’t remember either. That’s why this story is noteworthy:
Midstream build-out will be the big story of 2013 in the Utica Shale. One of the big projects under way is a natural gas processing facility in Kensington, Ohio, being built by a partnership between M3 Midstream (better known as Momentum), Chesapeake Energy and Enervest. The entire project will take five years to build, with the first portion going online sometime this year.
The latest on the Kensington project, being built in Columbiana County: