An interesting development in the “As Cuomo Dithers” fracking soap opera. Freshly back from a road trip to confer with researchers studying the health effects of fracking, New York State Commissioner of Health Nirav Shah appeared at a press conference yesterday with Gov. Cuomo. In a surprise announcement, Shah said he will render his judgment on the question of frack/no frack “in weeks.” Cuomo himself made some encouraging remarks at the presser too, including his belief that the two-year moratorium bill passed by the NY Assembly last Wednesday is going nowhere fast.
You may recall we are currently waiting for Shah’s review and official opinion on whether or not fracking as done under the rules proposed by the Dept. of Environmental Conservation would negatively impact “public health.” Shah and his assistants went on a road trip to find out what they could from fracking health studies now under way (see Deadline for NY Fracking Regs Slips Again…Or Does It?). One of those studies, being performed by Geisinger Health Systems, has only just received $1 million in funding and preliminary results won’t be available for at least a year. Anti-drillers celebrated and took that to mean fracking in New York will be on hold for several more years. Shah and Cuomo’s comments from yesterday may have burst their bubble…
It appears the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, the New York Petroleum Council and other pro-fracking groups have caught the attention—and irritation—of Gov. Ditherer Cuomo.
After a cabinet meeting yesterday, Cuomo was questioned about fracking and the looooooooong time it’s taking him to make up his mind. How did he respond? By verbally slapping around New York’s landowners that have waited nearly five years for drilling to begin:
A new research study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences shows that Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania does not pollute the state’s waterways—at least not appreciably. The paper is titled “Shale gas development impacts on surface water quality in Pennsylvania” (full copy embedded below) and looks only at surface water—not underground aquifers. The study is significant because it looks at nearly 5,000 shale drilling sites in the state, and according to the lead author, they “didn’t find evidence in waterways of significant chemical spills from drill sites.”
Another stellar article on the Seeking Alpha website by energy analyst Richard Zeits. This one takes a look at the Marcellus Shale and notes that something “inconceivable” even a few years ago will become true this year: The Mighty Marcellus Shale will hit 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas production per day. Wow!
Two shots were fired in a drive-by shooting at a Marcellus Shale well in Mercer Township (Butler County), PA last Saturday afternoon at 5:45 pm. Witnesses report a suspect in a white Ford Ranger pickup truck did the shooting…
The final chapter is now written. MDN previously told you about GPX/GPX USA, a Texas-based seismic surveying company doing work in Pennsylvania for the oil and gas industry that was caught using illegal aliens to work on their surveying crews. It appeared they would only be fined $25,000 for the violation (see GPX Gets Off Easy After Using Illegal Aliens for PA Survey Crew). However, in addition to the $25K fine, they also have to forfeit a $250,000 cash bond. Ouch. That’s more like it.
In addition, the operations manager in charge of the illicit arrangement faces six months in jail and a $5,000 fine:
Anti-drilling group Meigs Citizens Action Now (Meigs CAN) is “demanding” an answer from the U.S. Coast Guard about whether or not they will require an environmental impact study for a proposed brine wastewater transfer facility that will store and send brine on barges down the Ohio River. The brine wastewater transfer station is located in New Matamoras (Washington County), OH and is already operational (run by GreenHunter) using trucks. GreenHunter proposes to reduce the number of trucks in and out of the facility by using barges to move the brine. This is the same facility that was vandalized a few weeks ago by protesters who shut down the facility for part of a day (see Protesters Get Violent, Shut Down OH Frack Water Plant).
Meigs CAN, via a press release (see below), erroneously claims the facility handles fracking wastewater containing diesel fuel and chemicals classified as hazardous waste. In fact the facility does not handle fracking wastewater—it only handles water that comes of of the hole weeks and months after fracking is done—after the water containing chemicals is already removed. Brine is naturally occurring water from the depths full of minerals and yes, perhaps even a touch of radium (well below radiation safety limits).